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El Anatsui and Suzanne Ghez receive Venice Biennale lifetime achievement awards

[Artforum reports][1] that artist El Anatsui and former longtime Renaissance Society executive director and chief curator (1974-2013) have received lifetime achievement awards from the Venice Biennale board.

El Anatsui has been selected to receive the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement of the Fifty-sixth Venice Biennale. The Biennale’s board, chaired by Paolo Baratta, chose Anatsui, with the recommendation of the festival’s curator Okwui Enwezor.

“El Anatsui is perhaps the most significant living African artist working on the continent today,” said Baratta, citing his “originality of. Artistic vision, his long-term commitment to formal innovation, and his assertion through his work of the place of Africa’s artistic and cultural traditions in international contemporary art.”

The Ghanaian sculptor has shown work at the 2007 Venice Biennale, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In addition, Susanne Ghez was announced winner of the Special Golden Lion for Services to the Arts. Said the board, “Ghez has played a pioneering role in the field by introducing and giving young artists such as Jeff Wall, Mike Kelley, Isa Genzken, Thomas Struth, and Kara Walker their first museum exhibitions.”

*Image of El Anatsui’s work courtesy beartmagazine.com
[1]: http://artforum.com/news/id=51719

Adrian Piper has been awarded the Venice Biennale Golden Lion for best artist, and Joan Jonas has received honorable mention, as has the recently deceased Harun Farocki, Massinissa Selmani, and the Abounaddara collective, which recently withdrew from “All the World’s Futures.” Read Randy Kennedy’s New York Times report below.

VENICE – The envelopes have been opened and the lions held happily aloft. An international jury for the 56th Venice Biennale awarded the Golden Lion for best artist in the fair to Adrian Piper, an American artist living and working in Berlin, whose work has turned a shrewd conceptual eye for more than four decades on questions of race, gender and belonging.

Ms. Piper, 66, was most prominently featured in the Biennale by “The Probable Trust Registry,” a recent work consisting of corporate-looking kiosks at which people could choose to sign contracts agreeing to live by one or more of three rules: “I will mean everything I say”; “I will do everything I say I will do”; and “I will always be too expensive to buy.” The jury praised her work as an invitation to “engage in a life-long performance of personal responsibility.”

The award for best national pavilion went to Armenia, whose exhibition, “Armenity,” featured a group of artists from the Armenian diaspora who, as organizers of the show wrote, are “grandchildren of survivors of the Armenian Genocide – the first genocide of the 20th century” and builders of “a ‘transnational assembly’ from the remnants of a shattered identity.”

“Whether they were born in Beirut, Lyon, Los Angeles, or Cairo and wherever they may reside,” the organizers added, recognizing the 100th anniversary of the genocide by Ottoman Turks, “these global citizens constantly question and reinvent their Armenity.”

The American artist Joan Jonas received a special mention for her evocative video and sound installation for the United States pavilion and special mentions were also awarded to the Abounaddara collective from Syria; the German filmmaker Harun Farocki, who died last year; and Massinissa Selmani, who was born in Algiers and lives in France.