Michael W. Soi (Kenyan, born 1972) 'Shame in Venice I'

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Lot 11* W
Michael W. Soi
(Kenyan, born 1972)
'Shame in Venice I'

£ 3,000 - 5,000
US$ 3,900 - 6,400
Michael W. Soi (Kenyan, born 1972)
'Shame in Venice I'
signed and dated 'm.soi 2015' (lower right), inscribed 'La Biennale di Venezia Kenya Pavilion 2013, 2015' (upper centre)
oil on canvas
112 x 305cm (44 1/8 x 120 1/16in).

Footnotes

  • The current work is the artist's comment on the controversy that accompanied the Kenyan entries to the 2013 and 2015 Venice Biennale. In 2015, the Italian curators of the pavilion selected six Chinese artists, out of a total of eight, to fulfil the commission. A similar situation had occurred in 2013. In response, a petition was circulated entitled 'Renounce Kenya's fraudulent Representation at 56 Venice Biennale'. Kenyan cultural leaders and artists were angry that the government and organisers were not supporting African or local talent, especially in light of Nairobi's burgeoning art scene.

    Nairobi-based artist Michael Soi has criticised the continued involvement of China in Africa for several years. In particular Kenya has experienced a wave of Chinese migrants since the boom in Chinese infrastructure projects (estimated to be worth $3.27 billion in 2013). The artist executed a series of paintings between 2012 and 2013 entitled 'China Loves Africa'. The works criticized the Chinese government's increasing socio-economic control over the continent, and imagined the repercussions it could have with regards to foreign debt.

    The current work, Shame in Venice I, continues to scrutinize this relationship, in light of the events at the Venice Biennale. In an interview, Soi said of the work:

    "The Shame In Venice is all about misrepresentation and fraud flying the red, green and black of the Kenyan flag in a pavilion full of Chinese artists. For those who don't know, Kenya has a lot of great contemporary artists who can represent Kenya at whatever level. Artists living in the diaspora and the local gang operating from Nairobi and other towns in Kenya. The likes of Wangechi Mutu, Naomi Wanjiku Gakunga and the local brigade with the likes of Peterson Kamwathi, Paul Onditi, Richard Kimathi, Jimmy Ogonga, Jim Chuchu, Emily, Beatrice, Miriam, Jackie... We can go on and on...that Kenyan pavilion is as phony as a 3 dollar bill."

    Bibliography
    A. Klein, 'The Shame in Venice: Michael Soi responds to the Chinese takeover of Kenya's Art Pavilion' from www.okayafrica.com, (30 March, 2015).
    S. Moses, 'Outrage over Chinese artists chosen to represent Kenya at Venice Biennale' in www.theguardian.com (15 April, 2015).
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