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Kenya Government Disowns National Pavilion in 56th Venice Biennial, Calls organisers "Imposters"

Kenya contemporary
Nairobi, Kenya

Apr 14, 2015 — Today, 14th April 2014, Dr. Hassan Wario Arero, Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Sports, Culture and the Arts, read the following press statement:

STATEMENT ON VENICE BIENNALE 2015 – Tuesday, 14th April 2015

1. The Government of Kenya through the Ministry of Sports, Culture and The Arts would like to make a statement with regards to Kenyan participation in the 56th Venice Biennale, Italy from 9th May 2015 to 22nd September 2015.

2. The Government is aware that a team of seven (9) individuals, 1 Italian (Armando Tanzini), 1 Kenyan (Apiyo Braendle-Amolo) and 5 Chinese (Qin Feng, Shi Jinsong, Li zhanyang, Lan Zheng Hui and Li Gang) are wrongfully presenting themselves as the official Kenyan pavilion which is curated by Sandro Orlandi Stagl and Ding Xuefen.

3. The Government of Kenya dissociates itself with this group and strongly condemns their acts of impersonation.

4. Our investigations on this issue show that this has happened at least twice before in 2003 and 2013 through the involvement of Armando Tanzini who resides in Malindi. Tanzini and his team have presented themselves wrongfully and repeatedly as Kenya's official representative.

5. My office is in contact with the relevant departments in Government, to understand how this has happened repeatedly and to permanently prevent this from happening again. Our intention is to ensure that no such misrepresentation of Kenyan artists occurs in the future.

6. Going forward, my Ministry undertakes to make official contact with the organizers of the Venice Biennale in order to place Kenya's official bid for participation in the next Biennale in 2017. Thereafter, I shall convene a meeting of stakeholders to discuss the way forward for a truly representative Kenyan Pavilion in 2017.

7. Since it takes over one (1) year to prepare for an event of this scale and importance, I will be working closely with the relevant professional art organisations and artists, to carefully select a committee and curator who will work with my Ministry to select the finest Kenyan artists to represent our nation at the 2017 Biennale.


The press conference took place at the National Theatre. The CS was flanked by a number of Kenyan contemporary artists.

Unfortunately, there was minimal press presence.
The struggle now begins in earnest.

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