Accepted Paper:

Behind the Display: the role of Rockefeller foundation on the first's exhibitions of Contemporary African Art at the Venice Art Biennale.  

Author:

Amarildo Ajasse (Ca’ Foscari, University of Venice)

Paper short abstract:

The Venice Art Biennial, is the oldest biennale and one of the most prestigious art show. In recent decades, after long years of absence, there has been an increased presence of contemporary African arts. How and what was the institutional structure behind this increasing circulation?

Paper long abstract:

The Venice Art Biennial, is the oldest art biennale and one of the most prestigious art show in the world and is an exhibition where we can find not only some artists chosen by the curator of the edition or represented by galleries though collateral events but also national pavilions organized the governmental institutions.

In recent decades, after long years of absence, there has been an increased presence of contemporary African arts. For example, at the 56th edition in 2015, three out of the five countries that participated in the show for the first time were from the African continent and the numbers of artists was the highest ever. At the 57th this trend had continued.

But how the growing presence of contemporary African arts started? What were the conditions that had determined it? What was the institutional structure behind this increasing circulation and acceptance?

The purpose of this paper, which part of my ongoing 3 years PhD research, is to present some results that emphasis the crucial role of international private institution such as the Rockefeller foundation though the support and organization of the first exhibition of the contemporary African arts at Venice biennale, that took place in 1990 and 1993, on the context of the 44th and 45th edition respectively.

To deepen the he analysis the paper also shows how the institutional arrangements had evolved since then.

Panel P079
For an anthropology of the art world: Exploring institutions, actors and art works between circulation and territorialisation processes