Berni Searle in conversation with Salah Hassan

Berni Searle is a world-renowned South African artist who works with photography, video, and film to produce lens-based installations that stage narratives connected to history, memory, and place. Using her own body as subject and point of departure, Searle experiments with the surface of her skin, allowing it to be clad in layers of colored and aromatic spices, leaving her bodily imprint on drifts of spices on the floor, or staining certain areas of her body with various substances, suggesting trauma, or damage. Her work was included in the 1997 Johannesburg Biennale, the 1998 Cairo Biennale, and the 2001 and 2005 Venice Biennales. Searle received a UNESCO award in 1998 and the Minister of Culture prize at the Dak’Art 2000 Biennale. In 2001, she was awarded a Civitella Ranieri Fellowship, was the Standard Bank Young Artist in 2003, and was short-listed for the first Artes Mundi award in 2004. Most recently her work has been featured in Pictures by Women: A History of Modern Photography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and in SITE Santa Fe Eighth International Biennial, Santa Fe, New Mexico (June 2010). Searle is preparing a solo exhibition with new commissioned work that will be shown at De Hallen, the Belfry Tower, Bruges, Belgium (April-June 2011), and then traveling to MMKA, Arnhem, the Netherlands. Sponsored by the Institute for Comparative Modernities. Cosponsored by Carl Becker House, the Department of History of Art, and the Department of Art.

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