Simone Leigh at the Venice Biennale

The NYT has a new piece on the Venice Biennale:
At Venice Biennale, Contemporary Art Sinks or Swims
This year’s event is a lopsided affair, with a forceful central exhibition but disappointing national pavilions. Stan Douglas (Canada) packs a punch and Simone Leigh (U.S.) stands out for her aspiration.

First of all, consider taking in the art just featured on the website. The event is on from April 23 – November 27.

Simone Leigh is representing the US (I’m trying to think of where I’ve last seen her work in person, and I’m thinking the Menil Collection, last year, but not at all certain); her work, incredible:

Simone Leigh in the U.S. Pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale of Art from MONA productions on Vimeo.

From the NYT:

,…Leigh remains most successful in ceramic works such as the large white “Jug,” an oversized reconstitution of a Southern face jug whose surface she embeds with enlarged cowrie shells, and “Cupboard,” whose stonewear shell atop a large raffia skirt builds on surrealism’s African appropriations and Caribbean afterlives.

She’s taken these Southern forms — the face jug, the cupboard which has been mentioned before, taken from the Mammy’s Cupboard building in Natchez:

Mammy's Cupboard, Natchez MS

here, photographed in 2005

and the shells on face jug — here are some in my collection:

Face Jugs

really remind me so much, too, of the tradition of shells (though not cowrie in these examples) on cemetery monuments, like this on at Pioneer Cemetery in Greenville, Alabama, that I photographed in 2008:

Shell Cemetery Monument, Pioneer Cemetery, Greenville Alabama

Shell Monument at Pine Flat Methodist Church Cemetery, Butler County AL

…and this one, at Pine Flat Methodist Church Cemetery in Butler County AL.

There will be a ton of reviews coming in this week and especially this weekend. W Magazine did a nice feature on what to make sure to see at the Biennale; view Anselm Kiefer at Palazzo Ducale