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PhD student Samson Kambalu to exhibit at Venice 2015

Sepia Rain Installation
Sepia Rain Installation
Samson Kambalu, Sepia Rain, installation view, Stevenson Johannesburg 2014
Written by
Sarah McLean
Published date
01 April 2015

Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon PhD student, artist and author Samson Kambalu has been selected to exhibit at this year’s Venice Biennale entitled All the World’s Futures, curated by Okwui Enwezor.

He will be appearing at the 56th Venice Biennale alongside UAL Chair of Black Art and Design Professor Sonia Boyce, UAL Chair of Global Art Isaac Julien and Chelsea College of Arts alumni Chris Ofili and Steve McQueen.

Kambalu’s AHRC funded PhD at Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon (2011-15) examines how the problematic of the gift animates various aspects of his art practice. This has included research into the general economy in Meschac Gaba’s Museum of Contemporary African Art. As an artist, he works in a variety of media, including site-specific installation, video, performance and literature.

We interviewed him about his selection and who else he is looking forward to exhibiting alongside.

How does it feel to be selected to show at the Venice Biennale this year?
Other worldly, that’s how it feels just now. I was not expecting it. Okwui saw my show at Stevenson Johannesburg last October and liked it. I was doing my fellowship at Yale at the time and he asked me to come to New York for a meeting. I explained to him my current projects and when I put them down on paper he said he wanted all of them for the Venice Biennale.

Do you know yet what work you will be exhibiting?

I don’t know how much we are supposed to reveal at this point so I will be vague. I am doing three projects for the Biennale: a live performance that attempts to re-stage Michelangelo’s The Last Judgment; a film installation; and another installation based on my research at Yale.

How does it relate to the title and theme of the Biennale “All the World’s Futures”?
My view of contemporary art is pretty cosmopolitan and often socially and politically minded.

Can you talk to us about how your work as an artist relates to your PhD and research work at CCW?
My research examines how the problematic of the gift animates various aspects of my art practice. You could say I am doing a PhD on myself! But it’s more complex than that. My work has included research into William Blake and Situationism, Chewa (my tribe) prestation social structures and the general economy in Meschac Gaba’s Museum of Contemporary African Art.

Of the other artists selected to exhibit with you at Venice, whose work are you particularly interested in and why?
Bruce Nauman and Thomas Hirschhorn are ever curious. Time, play and critical transgression are urgent in the works of these artists. I aspire for the same urgency in my work.

Do you have any tips for people hoping to visit the Venice Biennale this summer?
Do get in touch, I might be able to sneak you in.

Find out more about studying a research degree at Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon on our Research and Graduate School pages.

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