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HomeAfricaArtDependence | Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung appointed Chief Curator of the 36th...

ArtDependence | Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung appointed Chief Curator of the 36th Bienal de São Paulo

Born in 1977 in Yaoundé, Cameroon, Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung is a prominent figure within the global contemporary art scene. His unique, interdisciplinary trajectory combines institution building as a practice, curatorial praxis with emphases on performativity, sonic, installative and visual arts, critical theory and discourse with an academic background in medical biotechnology and biophysics. Ndikung’s commitment to the intersection of art and science, together with his innovative vision, culminated in his appointment as director and chief curator of Berlin’s Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW) as of January 2023, after his tenure as founding director of SAVVY Contemporary. Ndikung is also a professor at the weißensee academy of art berlin.

“To say that I am happy to be appointed chief curator of Bienal de São Paulo would be an understatement. I am thrilled, honored and humbled to embark on this journey with a team of co-curators and the brilliant Bienal de São Paulo team led by the foundation’s president Andrea Pinheiro. Bienal de São Paulo is not only one of the oldest and most important biennials in the world, but as one of the very few free-admission biennials, it has proven in the past 73 years to be a biennial of and for the people. With its pathbreaking exhibitions, public and pedagogical programs, the Bienal de São Paulo has succeeded in bringing art to varying communities and demographic groups. Despite the challenges that biennials are facing around the world, they still serve as important barometers for measuring the sociopolitical pressures of the world. The Bienal de São Paulo seems to me to be a seismograph that not only records the different tremblements the world is experiencing socioeconomically, geopolitically and environmentally, but these records also give us the possibilities of shaping a more just, humanitarian future for all animate and inanimate beings on this planet. I am not only looking forward to continuing my long-term research in Abya Yala at large and Brazil in particular, but also to connecting my current practices as director, pedagogue and curator across geographies,” says Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung.

Ndikung moved to Berlin, Germany, in 1997 where he studied at the Technical University of Berlin (TU), did a doctorate in Medical Biotechnology from Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf/TU Berlin and a post-doctorate in biophysics from Université de Montpellier, France. His scientific experience is intertwined with his commitment to contemporary art, and he stands out as an innovative curator and prolific writer.

As the founding director of SAVVY Contemporary (Berlin, Germany), Ndikung goes beyond the conventional boundaries of an exhibition space. His approach challenges traditionally established concepts, making SAVVY Contemporary a unique discursive platform for exhibitions, performances and events.

Ndikung has worked as a curator at world-renowned events including documenta 14 (Kassel, Germany/ Athens, Greece), the Dak’Art: African Contemporary Art Biennale (Senegal), and the Venice Biennale (Italy), where he was co-curator of the Finnish Pavilion in 2019 and a member of the jury in 2022. His participation in the curatorship of Performeum at the Wiener Festwochen (Austria) in 2017 and his appointment as artistic director of sonsbeek20->24 in the Netherlands, as well as his artistic directorship of the Bamako Encounters – African Biennale of Photography in 2019 and 2022, highlight his global presence.

Recognized for his contributions, Ndikung received the Order of Merit of Berlin in October 2020, honoring a decade of work of SAVVY Contemporary and its crucial role in Berlin’s cultural scene.

Ndikung’s curatorial project was selected by the president of Fundação Bienal de São Paulo, Andrea Pinheiro, through a curatorial committee made up of the president, vice president Maguy Etlin, president of the Governing Board Eduardo Saron, board members José Olympio da Veiga Pereira, Ligia Fonseca Pereira, Marcelo Araujo, Susana Steinbruch and Paula Weiss, with the secretariat of Antonio Lessa, chief operating officer of Fundação Bienal de São Paulo. Andrea Pinheiro points out that: “In his curatorial work, Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung acts as a driving force that challenges boundaries and contributes to shaping the future of global contemporary art. I am sure that the 36th Bienal de São Paulo will continue to play its provocative role and be attentive to current issues, continuing the developments brought about by our most recent editions.”

The 36th Bienal de São Paulo is scheduled to take place in the second half of 2025, and Ndikung’s curatorial project will be presented in the second half of this year, along with the members of his curatorial team.

Main Image Bonaventure :Soh Bejeng Ndikung © Jana Edisonga / Fundação Bienal de São Paulo