Elisabetta Benassi: M’FUMU. Belgian Pavilion, Venice Art Biennale 2015

The Belgian Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale presents the work of the Belgian artist Vincent Meessen, together with international guest artists. Curated by Katerina Gregos, the exhibition is titled “Personnes et les autres” brings together several artists such as Mathieu K. Abonnenc, Sammy Baloji, James Beckett, Patrick Bernier & Olive Martin, Tamar Guimarães and Kasper Akhøj, Maryam Jafri, Adam Pendleton, and Elisabetta Benassi.

Elisabetta Benassi was born in 1966. She lives and works in Rome. Her work for Vincent Meessen’s Belgian Pavilion pays tribute to Paul Panda Farnana aka as M’Fumu (1888-1930), one of the Congo’s forgotten idealists. Panda was the first Congolese to receive a higher education in Belgium, was an advocate of Congolese rights, and became involved in the organisation of the 2nd Pan-African Congress in Brussels in 1921. In the Pavilion, Benassi installed an imaginary, ‘ghost’ stop (the M’Fumu stop) for Brussels’ 44 tram route. In this setting, a performer reads from the book King Leopold’s Soliloquy by Mark Twain, a 1905 pamphlet dealing with King Leopold’s rule over the Congo Free State. The book is a work of political satire harshly condemnatory of King Leopold’s actions and ostensibly recounts Leopold speaking in his own defense.

Elisabetta Benassi: M’FUMU. Performance / installation. Belgian Pavilion, Venice Art Biennale 2015 at the 56th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. Venice (Italy), May 7, 2015.

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