Seeing Ourselves is the title chosen by the curators of the Zimbabwe Pavilion, at the Venice Biennale.
Zimbabwe is for the first time in Venice and presents an exhibition, which is full of African artistic tradition and based on one, two, thousand questions, coming from an endless wondering about ourselves and the living space of our past, present and future.
Sure, because this African state stands out with a strong statement: It wants to be looked, observed, maybe just spied on - but in any case noticed, after a period in which it received only indifference. Indeed, Raphael Chikukwa, Zimbabwe Pavilion's curator, asserted: "Seeing Ourselves addresses the unfortunate fact that so much Zimbawean creativity and artistic striving has been overshoadowed or ignored, at the same time the exhibition demonstrates the importance of self-awareness and the possibility of new beginnings, a rebirth, a correction, and development".
Then, the choice of four representative artists of the present african scene, who are able to approach the new media and different techniques, is not casual.
The first of them is Tapfuma Gutsa, a sculptor who handles different materials as people may see in The Theatre Absurd (2011): An installation composed of a large size chessboard on which disturbing military helmets stand out; they are metal made and threateningly move forward towards men of all sort and races.
Calvin Dondo is, instead, a photographer interested in presenting scenes of modern family, where multiethnicity is by now a normal thing; an example is New German Family IV (2007), a new multiple portrait where there are parents with Caucasian origins and two dark-skinned sons, probably coming from Africa.
The video is the means used by Berry Bickle, author of short films like Ze (2011): A documentary with a length of 9 minutes focused on what this African geographical place represents - with its faces, its landscapes and its symbols.
Lastly, painting is significantly represented by young Misheck Masamvu, who combines an extremely bright palette with the images of overwhelmed, suffering and depleted men and women: A repertoire which, inevitably, puts a smile on each face, even if still a bitter one.
Santa Maria della Pietà
Calle della Pietà, Venice
Until November 27, 2011