Indigenous artists scoop Venice Biennale’s Golden Lions

A file image of the installation 'Takapau' by artists Mataaho Collective at the 60th Biennale of Arts exhibition in Venice, Italy, Tuesday, April 16, 2024.
A file image of the installation 'Takapau' by artists Mataaho Collective at the 60th Biennale of Arts exhibition in Venice, Italy, Tuesday, April 16, 2024. Copyright Luca Bruno/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Luca Bruno/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved
By Euronews
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Archie Moore won best national pavilion for Australia, and a group of four Māori women awarded the Best Participant Golden Lion at the world's oldest and most prestigious art exhibition.


First Nations artist, Archie Moore, has clinched the prestigious Golden Lion Award for Best National Participation at the 60th edition of the Venice Biennale. 

This is the first time an Australian artist has received this honour.

Moore's work "Kith and Kin" explores his Australian aboriginal and British ancestry and spans an incredible 65,000 years. 

Moore traced his family history back to create a family tree, which he carefully drew in chalk on the black walls of the Australia Pavilion. The work thus examines First Nation Australian history and the impact of colonisation.

In a speech recognising the artist, curator Bryan-Wilson praised Moore’s “quietly powerful” installation. 

Best Participant award

The Best Participant Golden Lion went to the Mataaho Collective, a group of Maori women from New Zealand. Their work is described as "a luminous woven structure of straps that poetically crisscross the gallery space".

The group wrote on Instagram that it refers to "matrilinear traditions of textiles with its womb-like cradle, the installation is both a cosmology and a shelter".

Other Lions

The Silver Lion for a promising young participant in the international exhibition went to British-Nigerian artist Karimah Ashadu, whose video Machine Boys and brass sculpture, Wreath, looks at the community of young migrant men in Lagos who ride illegal motorbike taxis. It records their subcultural experience and economic precarity.

A special mention went to Palestinian-American visual artist and activist Samia Halaby, whose 1969 abstract painting entitled Black is Beautiful, appeared in the Nucleo Storico part of the exhibition.

The second special mention went to artist La Chola Poblete, whose large-scale watercolours deal with histories of trans and Indigenous perspectives. 

Curator Elena Crippa said she was recognised for her work that “resists the exoticisation of Indigenous women”.

The jury’s special mention went to the Republic of Kosovo and Doruntina Kastrati's sculptural installation The Echoing Silences of Metal and Skin. The piece draws on the experiences of 12 women who work in a Turkish delight factory in her hometown of Prizren and addresses feminised industrial labour and workplace inequality. 

Announced earlier this year, the Golden Lions for lifetime achievement were awarded to Italian-born Brazilian artist Anna Maria Maiolino and the Paris-based Turkish artist Nil Yalter. 

Curator Adriano Pedrosa said he chose them because they are “two extraordinary, pioneering women artists who are also migrants and embody the spirit of the International Art Exhibition - titled 'Stranieri Ovunque – Foreigners Everywhere'.

Held every two years, the Venice Biennale is often considered the Olympics of the art world.

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