Okwui Enwezor announced as artistic director of the 2015 Venice Biennale

No sooner had the 2013 Venice Biennale ended than the new director for 2015 was announced.

December 11, 2013
by Gowri Balasegaram
Okwui Enwezor at Haus der Kunst, Munich

Nigerian-born curator and scholar Okwui Enwezor has been announced as Director of the Visual Arts Sector for the 2015 Venice Biennale. Enwezor, 50, will be the first African-born curator of the event.

Enwezor’s curatorial credits as artistic director include Documenta in 2002, the Seville and Gwangju Biennales in 2006 and 2008 respectively, and more recently the Paris Triennale in 2012. He joins Harald Szeeman as the only other person to have curated both the Biennale and Documenta exhibitions. In a statement announcing the appointment on the Venice Biennale’s website, president of the board Paolo Baratta said that Enwezor “has investigated, in particular, the complex phenomenon of globalization in relation to local roots. His personal experience is a decisive starting point for the geographic range of his analysis, for the temporal depth of recent developments in the art world and for the variegated richness of the present.’’

“No event or exhibition of contemporary art has continuously existed at the confluence of so many historical changes across the fields of art, politics, technology, and economics, like la Biennale di Venezia,” Enwezor said of his appointment. “La Biennale is the ideal place to explore all these dialectical fields of reference, and the institution of la Biennale itself will be a source of inspiration in planning the Exhibition.”

Enwezor moved to New York in 1982 from Nigeria, earning a BA at New Jersey City University in 1987. In 1993 he launched Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art with Chicka Okeke-Agulu and Salah Hassan. His first appointment with a major institution was in 1996 when he curated In/sight, an exhibition of African photographers at the Guggenheim Museum.He is currently museum director of Haus der Kunst in Munich, a position held since 2011.

This year’s Biennale was curated by Massimiliano Gioni, the New Museum’s associate director and director of exhibitions. It ended in November with a record 495,000 visitors. The 2015 Biennale  will run from 9 May through 22 November, 2015.