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The United Republic of Tanzania will participate at the 60th Venice Biennale

For the first time in its history, the United Republic of Tanzania will have its own pavilion at the 60th edition of the International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia.

Titled "A Flight in Reverse Mirrors (The Discovery of the Other)," the United Republic of Tanzania's exhibition at the 2024 Venice Biennale is curated by Enrico Bittoto and commissioned by Mrs. Leah Elias Kihimbi, the country's Assistant Director of the Ministry of Culture, Arts, and Sports. The exhibition features four artists: Haji Chilonga, Happy Robert, Lutengano Mwakisopile (Lute), and Naby. 

"A Flight in Reverse Mirrors (The Discovery of the Other),
"A Flight in Reverse Mirrors (The Discovery of the Other)"

With hundreds of art galleries spread across the country’s major cities, as well as the island of Zanzibar, Tanzania’s contemporary art scene is expedited, and the Venice Biennale comes as a great opportunity to display this peculiar essence on a more global scale. “I am particularly pleased that for the first time, the esteemed commission of the Venice Biennale has also selected artists from Tanzania, and I am confident that this is only the beginning of a renewed enthusiasm towards Tanzanian artists in all their expressions and at all levels.” Marco Conca, the Honorary Consul of the United Republic of Tanzania expressed in a press release. 

"A Flight in Reverse Mirrors (The Discovery of the Other)" consists of the construction of four imaginary rooms, each representing four eras of Tanzania history (ranging from the late 19th century to the first two decades of the 21st century, and in a hypothetical decontextualised future/present), but not only that, as they also engage in a specular and intersecting dialogue with each other. 

The four artists who will occupy the four mirrored "imaginary rooms" will interpret, through their particular sensibilities, the themes of travel, encounter, re-definition of the self, and comprehensive mediation. The four rooms, in constant dialogic exchange, will share the space traversed by the viewer to visit them. Based on the stimuli evoked by the artworks, the viewer can autonomously decide the path of their visit, which unfolds over a few square meters. This is because the narrative, the message, do not require much physical space to fully express themselves, containing within them boundless territories in the intimate spiritual realms of each individual. The exhibited works will explore diverse mediums such as paintings, woodcuts, and site-specific installations. 

In the first room, the first two chambers will be compared: that of Lutengano Mwakisopile (Lute) and that of Happy Robert. They represent two stories and two periods of the 20th century that speak about growth, encounters with the stranger, and the beginning of the journey. On one side (Lutengano), is a "western migration" of conquest, where the wealthy migrate to the lands of the destitute to exploit their material goods. On the other side (Happy) is the migration "towards the West", of abandonment, where the destitute migrate to the lands of the wealthy, hoping to partake in the prosperity they cannot find in their own land. In the second room, the two chambers of Haji Chilonga and Naby will be compared. The stories told in these rooms reflect upon Chilonga's work, which focuses on the contemporary aspects of Tanzania and depicts a new man. Multifaceted and in search of a social and cultural emancipation not yet achieved despite the political and technological progress of the second half of the last century and the first two decades of the current one. It portrays a nuanced dimension. Naby's work, on the other hand, does not necessarily project into the future; rather, it is oriented towards a constant, reiterated present folded within a social cage permeating contemporary society. 

According to the curator, Enrico, the underlying idea of the pavilion, which aims to study the principles surrounding the curatorial concept of the 60th Biennale, is the discovery of the origin of the concept of the 'Other.' "Tanzania offers us a privileged observation point in this regard, as it is one of the 'Cradles of Humanity' where the first relationships of exchange between humans and nature, and humans and animals, developed—through the hands of the first 'Conscious Creatives,’" he noted in statement to Art Report Africa. 

The exhibition will be held at La Fabbrica di Vedere – Archivio Carlo Montanaro, Calle del Forno, 3857, 30121 Venice.

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Born in Ferrara on March 15, 1981, Enrico graduated in Sociology in 2004 from the University of Bologna with a thesis entitled "Ernst Mach from Empirio-Criticism to Naturalistic Metaphysics." He specialised in 2007 in the Master's program in Environmental Sociology, deepening the relationships between sociology and art under the guidance of Professor Pietro Bellasi. 

CURATORIAL ACTIVITIES YEAR 2019 – Organised the exhibition of the artist Naby Byron, with music by Max Casacci (leader of the well-known Italian music group "Subsonica") titled "Play with us" at the premises of the Hilton Molino Stucky in Venice. The exhibition was promoted by the Museum of the Carousel and Popular Entertainment of Bergantino on the twentieth anniversary of the Foundation, under the patronage of the President of the Veneto Region Luca Zaia, the Municipality of Venice (Councillors Mar and De Martin), the Municipality of Bergantino, and the Museum Mondo Agricolo Ferrarese. The exhibition was selected as the main event in Italy for the centenary of the Hilton Group, May 11, 2019 / November 24, 2019. The installation addresses the themes of violence against women and was replicated in 2021 at the Municipality of Bergantino (RO) and in 2022 as a special event within the framework of Art City Night in Bologna. In 2024, curated the event titled "Snapshot, mechanised evening", promoted by the Municipality of Casalecchio di Reno, as part of the Art City White Night in Bologna.


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The United Republic of Tanzania will participate at the 60th Venice Biennale

April 5, 2024

Fredrick Favour

4 min read

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