The US Pavilion at the Venice Biennale is a Palladian-style structure built in 1930 by the then well-known architects William Adams Delano and Chester Holmes Aldrich.

Within the Castello Gardens that house all the national pavilions of the Venice Biennale, the US Pavilion enjoys a prominent position.
In 1986, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation 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 then the Bureau for Education and Cultural Affairs of the US Department of State in the organization of the visual arts exhibitions at the US Pavilion. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation organized comparable shows at the Architecture Biennales until 2002, when the US Pavilion was promoted for the first time by the US Department of State.

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