Three Ghanaian curators of the 18th Venice Biennale of Architecture, which opened on Saturday, were denied entry by the Italian government. The curators were travelling to Venice to attend the event and work with Ghanaian-Scottish curator Lesley Lokko, the first curator of African descent to helm the exhibition. A large portion of the Biennale, titled Laboratory of the Future, will focus on voices from Africa and African diasporas.
According to Lokko, the three Ghanaian curators were denied visas by Daniela d’Orlandi, the Italian Ambassador to Ghana, on the grounds that there are ‘reasonable doubts’ on their ‘intention to leave the territory, or state, before the expiry of [their] visa’, even though the Biennale has confirmed to The Art Newspaper that return tickets to Ghana have been booked for all three curators. In the press conference and a statement circulated on Twitter, Lokko openly denounced the Italian government whose decision shows the ‘ugly rear’ of its immigration policy, which has become more stringent after populist prime minister Giorgia Meloni was elected last October.
‘This is not a new story. It’s an old and familiar tale’, said Lokko. ‘It has happened to my family. It has happened to my friends. It has happened to collaborators. I think everyone in the global south understands this story only too well.’
The Biennale is currently working on a solution with the Italian government.