The suspense is over for the artists in Seychelles. George Camille and Léon Radegonde have been chosen to represent Seychelles at the upcoming 55th Venice Biennale.
The decision was finalised by two independent curators – Sarah V. MacDonald and Victor Schaub Wong – and was announced yesterday by the curators themselves at the head office of the National Arts Council (Nac).
The call for artists to take part was launched in December 2014 and closed in January. The two curators had the opportunity to meet all the artists, discuss with them individually and evaluate their work.
“We were very impressed with the work of the artists. We asked them to put their identity and their past in their work and this was a lot for some of them. After going around, the results were amazing. It was also good to see the fraternity that exists among the artists. The Venice Biennale showcases conceptual or contemporary arts. Our job as curators is to rewrite the stories of the artists,” Mrs MacDonald said.
She added that the artists chosen have to show a level of maturity both intellectually and practically. “We will have another Biennale in two years and I advise the Seychellois artists to start working towards this goal. For me it’s about history and it is not an art fair or a gallery.”
“Before arriving here, I was quite concerned,” said Mr Wong. “When I checked about art in Seychelles, I could see only tourists’ related materials/works. But once I came here and saw the potentials of the artists, it was another dimension,” he declared with satisfaction.
“I am unable to manifest my excitement as for me it is a big challenge. It is a huge opportunity for me to show my ability. The work required for the Biennale is out of my comfort zone but I will need to work hard to show a difference. Through my work I am going to transmit a message about the environment,” noted Mr Camille.
He also recalled that Seychelles tried to take part in previous biennales but the fund was not there yet. “This year we got the support of Minister St Ange, the government and the private companies. We would welcome any help that we get,” he added.
Mr Radegonde was quite emotional upon hearing he was selected. “I have been preparing for a solo exhibition for the last three years and when the curators saw my work, they were quite happy. I am dedicating this selection to the La Digue people. This is where I come from and that is what I want to show in the Biennale.”
Jimmy Savy, the chief executive of Nac, wished the selected artists the best of luck in their efforts to represent Seychelles.
The Seychelles Arts Project Foundation (SAPF) is helping the Seychellois artists to take part for the first time ever in this year’s 55th Venice Biennale in Italy. Venice Biennale is the world’s leading contemporary art event and this year it will be held in May. Participation comes at a price because work has to be curated, shipped, insured and installed and the SAPF has the responsibility to ensure that Seychelles’ involvement at the Biennale becomes a reality.
The Global Art Affairs Foundation, based in the Netherlands, is helping Seychelles secure a space at the 55th Venice Biennale.
Both selected artists are not taking part as individuals but will have to work together to represent Seychelles art.
Already PMC Auto group, The Boat House, Le Chantier Dental Clinic and Chateau Castigno have contributed towards the involvement of the Seychellois artists at the Biennale.