One of the longest-running cultural exhibition festivals in the world, The Venice Biennale (La Biennale di Venezia) is showcasing Baltimore art gallery Galerie Myrtis.
The local gallery, which was founded by Myrtis Bedolla, is the first Black woman-owned gallery invited to participate in the Venice Biennale-affiliated exhibition, “Personal Structures: Time, Space, and Existence.”
The cultural event, organized by the European Cultural Centre, takes place every other year. It was established in 1895 and attracts up to 600,000 visitors from all over the world.
Bedolla’s exhibition, “The Afro-Futurist Manifesto: Blackness Reimagined,” examines how “time, space, and existence serve as the framework for exploring Blackness and its speculative future,” according to a release from the Baltimore Office for Promotion & The Arts.
“Artists assert agency over narratives of Black life, offer discourse into the socio-political concerns of African Americans, and pay tribute to the resiliency, creativity, and spirituality that have historically sustained Black people,” Bedolla said in a statement.
The exhibition was made possible with help from the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts (BOPA). With BOPA’s efforts, Galerie Myrtis obtained funding from the Maryland State Arts Council and received help as a minority-owned small business through the American Rescue Plan Act.
Bedolla is not the only artist with ties to Maryland at the exhibition. Five of the eight artists featured have a connection to the state, and several to Baltimore.
Maryland-based photographer Tawny Chatmon; Arvie Smith, a Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) graduate and former director of the LeRoy E. Hoffberger School of Painting at MICA; MICA graduate Morel Doucet; Baltimore-based figure painter Monica Ikegwu; and BOPA Sondheim Art competition finalist Larry Cook will all be part of the exhibition.
In addition to curating an exhibition in Italy, Bedolla took part in a Christie’s New York auction house sale. The event featured six contemporary Black artists, which were all personally selected by Bedolla. Her selection was named “Time, Space, Existence: Afro-Futurist Visions From Galerie Myrtis,” as a nod to her exhibition at The Venice Biennale.