The US Pavilion at the Venice Biennale is a Palladian-style building, designed in 1930 by renowned architects, William Adams Delano and Chester Holmes Aldrich.

The US Pavilion enjoys a prominent position in the Castello Gardens, which house many of the national pavilions of the Venice Biennale. In 1986, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York, purchased the US Pavilion from the Museum of Modern Art, New York, with funds provided by the Peggy Guggenheim Collection Advisory Board. Since 1986, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection has worked with the United States Information Agency (USIA), the Fund for Artists at International Festivals and Exhibitions, and currently with the Bureau for Education and Cultural Affairs of the US Department of State in the organization of the visual arts and architecture exhibitions at the US Pavilion. Prior to 2002 the architecture exhibitions were organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.

59th International Art Exhibition

Venice, 22.04–27.11.2022

Simone Leigh Sovereignty

Organized by:
Institute of Contemporary Art Boston in partnership with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State

Jill Medvedow, Ellen Matilda Poss Director, ICA/Boston

Eva Respini, Barbara Lee Chief Curator, ICA/Boston

Simone Leigh: Sovereignty features a new body of work made for the United States Pavilion. Characterized by an interest in performativity and affect, Leigh’s expansive practice parses the construction of Black femme subjectivity. Her large-scale sculptural works join forms derived from vernacular architecture and the female body, rendering them via materials and processes associated with the artistic traditions of Africa and the African diaspora. Sovereignty commingles disparate histories and narratives, including those related to ritual performances of the Baga peoples in Guinea, early Black American material culture from the Edgefield District in South Carolina, and the landmark 1931 Paris Colonial Exposition. With a series of new bronzes and ceramics both outside and inside the Pavilion, Leigh intervenes imaginatively to fill gaps in the historical record by proposing new hybridities.

Simone Leigh: Façade, 2022. Thatch, steel, and wood, dimensions variable. Satellite, 2022. Bronze, 24 feet × 10 feet × 7 feet 7 inches (7.3 × 3 × 2.3 m) (overall). Courtesy the artist and Matthew Marks Gallery. Photo by Timothy Schenck. © Simone Leigh