Simone Leigh, American Pavilion – Venice Art Biennale 2022

Simone Leigh, Satellite, 2022, bronze; Sovereignty Exhibition, United States Pavilion, Venice Art Biennale 2022; photo © Riccardo Bianchini / Inexposure.

Simone Leigh, Sovereignty, United States Pavilion – Venice Art Biennale 2022

Title: Simone Leigh, Sovereignty
Curator: Jill Medvedow, Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston
Curator: Eva Respini, Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston
Artist: Simone Leigh
Venue: United States Pavilion, Giardini della Biennale

the ICA – Institute of Contemporary Art – Boston is the commissioner of the United States Pavilion at the 59th Venice Art Biennale in 2022. The pavilion presents the work of the American artist Simone Leigh in cooperation with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of State.

Leigh’s sculptural work explores themes of history, race, gender, labor and monuments, creating and retrieving powerful narratives about black women and their resilience. For the Venice Biennale exhibition, Simone Leigh (Chicago, 1967) created a series of figurative sculptures in ceramic, bronze and raffia, mixing references to 19th century art in West Africa, to the culture material from early Black Americans and the African Diaspora, and colonial history from international exhibits.
Entitled Sovereigntythe exhibition begins outside the pavilion, with an installation that covers the building with a thatched roof reminiscent of an early 19th-century West African palace and the 24-foot-tall bronze sculpture Satellite.
The pieces on display inside the pavilion, all specially created for the exhibition, feature a variety of shapes and materials – from bronze and glazed ceramics to raffia and steel – and fully express the articulate creative language of Simone Leigh – who moves freely from the figurative to the abstract – and the complex and rich cultural framework that informs her sculptural work.

Simone Leigh, American Pavilion, Venice Art Biennale 2022, 6 Inexhibit

Simone Leigh, Last Garment, 2022, bronze and metal; United States Pavilion, 2022 Venice Art Biennale; photo © Riccardo Bianchini / Inexposure.

Simone Leigh, American Pavilion, Venice Art Biennale 2022, 2 Inexhibit

Simone Leigh, Jug, 2022, glazed stoneware; photo © Riccardo Bianchini / Inexposure.

Simone Leigh, American Pavilion, Venice Art Biennale 2022, 3 Inexhibit

Simone Leigh, Cupboard, 2022, raffia, steel and enamelled stoneware; photo © Riccardo Bianchini / Inexposure.

Simone Leigh, American Pavilion, Venice Art Biennale 2022, 4 Inexhibit

Simone Leigh, Anonyme, 2022, glazed stoneware and bronze; photo © Riccardo Bianchini / Inexposure.

Simone Leigh, American Pavilion, Venice Art Biennale 2022, 5 Inexhibit

Simone Leigh, Sentinel, 2022, bronze; photo © Riccardo Bianchini / Inexposure.

Simone Leigh, American Pavilion, Venice Art Biennale 2022, 7 Inexhibit

Simone Leigh, Martinique, 2022, glazed stoneware; photo © Riccardo Bianchini / Inexposure.

Simone Leigh, Venice Art Biennale 2022, United States Pavilion

Simone Leigh; photo by Shaniqwa Jarvis courtesy of the artist.

Christopher S. Washington