Kate Brown, ART NET, April 25, 2018

Ana Mendieta, Firelei Báez, Sondra Perry, and Oscar Murillo are among the 46 artists and collectives included in this year’s Berlin Biennale. Organized by curator Gabi Ngcobo, the highly anticipated exhibition, “We Don’t Need Another Hero,” takes its name from a 1985 Tina Turner song of the same title.

It’s an impressive list, a feat Ngcobo can pull off thanks to her own biennial experience (she co-organized the 32nd Bienal de São Paulo in 2016) as well as a substantial funding injection of €500,000 (about $612,000) on top of the biennial’s regular €3 million budget.

With her international curatorial team Nomaduma Rosa Masilela (of New York), Serubiri Moses (of Kampala), Thiago de Paula Souza (of São Paulo), and Yvette Mutumba (of Berlin), the 44-year-old South African curator has set out to engage artists to renegotiate “the systems of exchange.”

The all-star line-up includes a sprinkling of familiar names, such as this year’s Turner Prize winner Lubaina Himid, the multidisciplinary star Simone Leigh, and the late abstract painter Mildred Thompson, whose work was recently highlighted in the exhibition “Magnetic Fields” at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC.

Other participants include Okwui Okpokwasili, an Igbo-Nigerian American artist and performer based in Brooklyn, Mimi Cherono Ng’ok, a young Nairobi-based photographer, and the Keleketla! Library, a collection of rare or forgotten publications from Johannesburg.

The exhibition, which runs from June 9 to September 9, will take place across multiple locations in Berlin: the KW Institute for Contemporary Art, which has been the main hub for the event since its founding in 1998; the Akademie der Künste, one of Europe’s oldest cultural institutions; the Volksbühne Pavilion, a satellite location next to the famous Volksbühne theater; and ZK/U – Center for Art and Urbanistics, a former railroad depot that will host an artist residency. The fifth site, the theater HAU2, will host a series of performances.

With an irreverent and somewhat incoherent visual identity (created by New York-based Maziyar Pahlevan) that features little more than a massive X and disorienting geometric patterns, the exhibition is not likely to offer easy reading—or viewing. Phrases in the initial press release read like a call to action, proposing “a plan for how to face collective madness.”


See the full list of participating artists below.

Agnieszka Brzeżańska

Ana Mendieta

Basir Mahmood

Belkis Ayón

Cinthia Marcelle

Dineo Seshee Bopape

Elsa M’bala

Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa

Fabiana Faleiros

Firelei Báez

Gabisile Nkosi

Grada Kilomba

Heba Y. Amin

Herman Mbamba

Joanna Piotrowska

Johanna Unzueta

Julia Phillips

Keleketla! Library

Las Nietas de Nonó

Liz Johnson Artur

Lorena Gutiérrez Camejo

Lubaina Himid

Luke Willis Thompson

Lydia Hamann & Kaj Osteroth

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye

Mario Pfeifer

Mildred Thompson

Mimi Cherono Ng’ok

Minia Biabiany

Moshekwa Langa

Natasha A. Kelly

Okwui Okpokwasili

Oscar Murillo

Özlem Altın

Patricia Belli

Portia Zvavahera

Sam Samiee

Sara Haq

Simone Leigh

Sinethemba Twalo and Jabu Arnell

Sondra Perry

Tessa Mars

Thierry Oussou

Tony Cokes

Tony Cruz Pabón

Zuleikha Chaudhari


The 10th Berlin Biennale will take place from June 9 through September 9, 2018 at various venues in Berlin.

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