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Curator Gaëtane Verna on Her Path to Venice and What Follows

The Canada Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, featuring Trinket, an installation by Canadian French artist Kapwani Kiwanga and curated by Gaëtane Verna, has been widely praised. Frieze’s critic described it as a ‘brilliant meditation’, while the New York Times described it as a ‘vast and dramatic’ work.

Trinket, a stunning installation, showcases intricate displays of glass conterie or seed beads, highlighting their historical significance and impact on global trade and politics, drawing attention to the human cost of extractive capitalism. Deeply embedded in Venice’s history, these seemingly innocuous objects were traded for various raw materials, weaving a complex narrative that Kiwanga’s exhibition masterfully explores.

Known for her meticulously researched installations, Kiwanga often delves into overlooked histories and themes of gender, colonialism, and social injustice. While she eschews the figurative, her work resonates with intimate human stories through highly abstracted, minimalist, and colour-focused forms. Verna and Kiwanga’s collaboration dates to when Kiwanga showcased a major exhibition at The Power Plant in Toronto in 2017 under Verna’s direction. Now the executive director at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio, Verna was requested explicitly by Kiwanga to curate the Canada Pavilion in Venice.

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