Sarah J. McDonald and Victor Schaub Wong, the two curators for the Seychelles Pavilion at the 2015 Venice Biennale, writes: Thursday, May 7, 2015, marked the opening of the first Seychelles Pavilion at the Venice Biennale – a historical moment for the island archipelago to be part of an international contemporary art forum and exhibition. The Minister of Tourism and Culture, Mr. Alain St.Ange, opened the pavilion noting that there was no turning back. The Seychelles had arrived and will stride to keep its place at the Biennale.
Through the Seychelles Art Projects Foundation, a call for artist participation resulted in a challenging list of artists to select from. The curators, Sarah J. McDonald and Victor Schaub Wong, selected two artists whose work addressed and questioned the idea of the Seychellois identity through its history and contemporary challenges.
Léon Radegonde, 1950 La Digue, presented works on canvas which dug through the layers of Seychelles’ rich yet at times troubled history. Each canvas was intricately worked to encapsulate as well as reveal his memories and experiences. The resulting time capsules serve as a catalyst to forge forward into the future. Out of his dark canvas a new light is emitted.
George Camille, 1963 Mahé, presented an installation of electrical cables, petroleum oil, and metal armatures, which invaded the space as does the uninvited creepers of his native country. The same electric cables used in massive hotel projects on the island are splayed open to reveal the leaf forms of the invasive vines, with tanks of petroleum oil hovering overhead as altars of reverence. The vines are wrapping around the rafters of the space while the oil is slowing oozing and coating the leaves. The installation addresses the precarious balance between economic development and its environmental impact.
The significance of the Seychelles’ participation at the LVI Venice Biennale goes beyond the idyllic shores of the country. It is telling the international community the country is more than the picture perfect postcard of sandy beaches, palm trees, and turquoise waters. The Seychelles is a rich and complex culture whose stories are being told through its artists.
Seychelles is a founding member of the International Coalition of Tourism Partners (ICTP) .