the Johannesburg pavillon

The Johannesburg Pavilion at 56th Venice Biennale

Organizer: Roelof van Wyk, Lee-Ann Orton, Lucy Mac

The project is a a partnership between the 133 Arts Foundation & the FNB JoburgArtFair and developed in memory of the final Johannesburg Biennale curated in 1997 by Okwui Enwezor, the current and first African Director of the 56th Venice Biennale 2015.

Initiated by a collective group of artists, writers and curators, the project encapsulates the spirit of the expansive and mythical African city of Johannesburg, both in its provocative title as a non-official ‘city pavilion’, and as a temporary interventions in the everyday urban fabric of the city of Venice.

The selected artists work largely in the mediums of film and performance. Each has an affiliation with Johannesburg, claiming (or disclaiming) a unique connection with this place they call, alternately, Johannesburg, Joburg, Jozi, Egoli (City of Gold).

“The lived experience of Johannesburg’s complex history and present-tense is the focus of this civic Pavilion at the 2015 Venice Biennale. Inherent to the idea of a Johannesburg Pavilion is the impossibility of recreating or representing a holistic environment. This Pavilion does not purport to that. Instead, it is an examination of the city — the cartography of which, as evidenced in the works of the chosen artists, manifests a multitude of attendant dichotomies and micro-narratives. Part political statement, part response to this year’s Biennale theme, the Pavilion’s programme is, at the same time, constituted of a series of singular and idiosyncratic meditations on life in this disruptive and fantastic African metropolis. There is no desire to create the city in facsimile, but rather to explore the personal and the oblique within it, and to examine how this exploration can be used to forge fresh, alternate spaces.” – !

Lucy MacGarry
Curator, FNB Joburg Art Fair and The Johannesburg Pavilion 2015 Organiser.


6 May, 2015

ALBERTA WHITTLE and FARIEDA NAZIER, invite audience members into their ‘office’, to be racially classified in the project RIGHT OF ADMISSION. Everyone’s Welcome. The About Artist Studio, Santa Croce 1165, 11am-5pm

7 May, 2015

BETTINA MALCOMESS performs as ANNE HISTORICAL The About Artist Studio, Santa Croce 1165, 7pm. Everyone’s Welcome.

8 May, 2015

SENZENI MTHWAKAZI MARASELAperforms the character THEODORA HLUNGWANE on a daily basis but will also be on her knees, drawing on the flagstones of the public space of Campo San Giacomo dall’Orio, 30135, 11am – 1pm. Everyone’s Welcome. !

An installation of MARASELA’s drawings will be on View on this day ONLY at The About Artist Studio, Santa Croce 1165, 11am-5pm. Everyone’s Welcome. !

MANDISA POEFFICIENT VUNDLA will perform a set of SPOKEN WORD poems from the streets and hearts of the townships of Johannesburg. The South African Pavilion, The Arsenale, 1130am. The About Artist Studio, Santa Croce 1165, 8pm. !

STREET PARTY by the Johannesburg Artists for their fellow Venetian Artists. The About Artist Studio, Santa Croce 1165, 7pm – 12pm.

10 May 2015

JEMMA KAHN & ROBERTO POMBO in We Didn’t come to Hell for the Croissants. Seven Deadly New Stories for Consenting Adults performed on stage in The About Artist Studio, 7pm-8pm. Everyone’s Welcome.


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