South African artists and curators join forces to launch independent performance pavilion

The Joburg Pavilion will run in parallel to South Africa's official pavilion during the opening days of the Venice Biennale

Art collective The CUSS Group will be among the participants taking part in the unofficial Joburg Biennale. Courtesy City Press

Artists, writers and curators are joining forces to launch an independent performance exhibit alongside the official South African Pavilion at the 2015 Venice Biennale, City Press reports. This new Joburg Pavilion will involve artists working in performance and video, including the CUSS Group, Athi-Patra Ruga, Anthea Moys, Bogosi Sekhukhuni, Kudzanai Chiurai and Thenjiwe Niki Nkosi, who will explore what the city of Johannesburg means to them. Presented by the FNB JoburgArtFair & 133 Arts Foundation, it was conceived in memory of the final Johannesburg Biennale curated in 1997 by Okwui Enwezor, the current Director of this year’s Venice Biennale 2015.

Scheduled to run during the preview and opening days of the biennale, the Joburg Pavilion will be set in the streets around the Campo San Giacomo dell’Orio in Santa Croce, Venice. This choice to focus on performative and video-based works was made in response to the commodification of art in South Africa, where the market is “dominated by the commerce of wall- and floor-based art,” says Roelof van Wyk, one of the independent pavilion’s founding members. The organisers also hope to give voice to a younger generation of artists, who are often underrepresented in government-sponsored exhibitions such as the official pavilion.

The Joburg Pavilion will run from 6–14 May at the 56th Venice Biennale (May 9 – 22 November)