Sonia Boyce And Simone Leigh Won Golden Lions At The 59th Venice Art Biennale

The two artists were awarded for work honoring the visions of Black women. Special mentions for best national participation went to France and Uganda.

by GRIOT - Published on 24/04/2022
via The New York Times / Photo: Felix Hörhager

Sonia Boyce, who represented the U.K. with a multimedia installation dedicated to five Black female musicians, accepted the Golden Lion for best national participation in the event. Simone Leigh was recognized for her 16-foot-tall bronze bust Brick House, which opened the main exhibition in the Arsenale.

Both Boyce and Leigh were the first Black women to represent their nations at the 127-year-old biennale. They are also the first Black women to win Golden Lions.

The Silver Lion for a promising young artist in the central exhibition was awarded to the Lebanese artist Ali Cherri, whose work taps into the Biennale’s themes of our relationship to nature and the heavens.

Two pavilions were granted special recognition: France and Uganda. Both exhibitions represented important firsts. Zineb Sedira, whose joyous installation was a tribute to post-colonial film, is the first French artist of Algerian descent at the Biennale.

Uganda, which presented work by Acaye Kerunen and Collin Sekajugo, won for its first-ever participation in the event.

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