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Berni Searle Biography

Born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1964, Berni Searle works with photography and the moving image. Often but not exclusively using herself in her work, she performs for the camera, producing works that explore issues of self-representation, the relationship between personal and collective identity and narratives connected to history, memory and place. While her works are often explored in dialogue with the socio-political legacy of South Africa and in relation to current day realities, her use of metaphor and poetic ambiguity transcend the specificity of context, drawing on shared human emotions associated with displacement, vulnerability and loss. The politics and poetics of place have always been of central concern in her work.

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Searle has a master's degree from the University of Cape Town's Michaelis School of Fine Art, where she is a Professor and Director. Her work was featured in the 49th and 51st Venice Biennale (2001 and 2005 respectively). Previous exhibitions include 'Distance and Desire: Encounters with the African Archive at the Walther Collection,' Ulm, Germany (2014-2015); 'Earth Matters at the National Museum of African Art,' Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., USA (2014); 'Pictures by Women: A History of Modern Photography,' Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA (2011); 'Figures and Fictions,' Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK (2011); 'HomeLands/LandMarks: Contemporary Art from South Africa,' Haunch of Venison, London, UK (2008); 'Global Feminisms,' Brooklyn Museum, New York, NY, USA (2007); 'New Photography,' Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA (2007); and 'Personal Affects, Power and Poetics in Contemporary South African Art,' Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York, NY, USA (2004).

In 2019, Searle was artist in residence at the Maitland Institute, Cape Town and the 'Featured Artist' at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. In 2014, she was the Rockefeller Bellagio Creative Arts Fellow, and in 2015 she won the Mbokodo Award in the Visual Arts category. She was short-listed for the Artes Mundi Prize in 2004 and was the recipient of the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Visual Art, South Africa in 2003, as well as the Minister of Culture Prize at DAK'ART in 2000.

Text courtesy Richard Saltoun Gallery.

Berni Searle Featured Artworks

Enfold (Seeking Refuge series) by Berni Searle contemporary artwork
Berni SearleEnfold (Seeking Refuge series), 2008Archival pigment ink on cotton rag paper
102 x 144 cm
Richard Saltoun Gallery Contact Gallery
To hear, to see, to speak by Berni Searle contemporary artwork
Berni SearleTo hear, to see, to speak, 2014Archival digital prints, each print 45 x 45 cm, 55 x 45 cm, 45 x 45 cm
Richard Saltoun Gallery Contact Gallery
Untitled (yellow) from the ‘Colour Me’ series by Berni Searle contemporary artwork
Berni SearleUntitled (yellow) from the ‘Colour Me’ series, 1998Lightjet on Fuji Crystal Archive Matt paper
Richard Saltoun Gallery Contact Gallery

Berni Searle Recent Exhibitions

Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Made Routes at Richard Saltoun Gallery, London
Closed
30 August–26 September 2019 Group Exhibition Made Routes Richard Saltoun GalleryLondon

Berni Searle Represented By

Berni Searle In Ocula Magazine

Senzeni Marasela: ‘My work is rooted in Johannesburg’ Ocula Conversation Senzeni Marasela: ‘My work is rooted in Johannesburg’ By Jareh Das, Cape Town

Senzeni Marasela traces her practice within the context of South Africa's generation of post-apartheid female artists.

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Berni Searle In Related Press

‘Made Routes: Mapping and Making’, Vivienne Koorland and Berni Searle at Richard Saltoun Related Press ‘Made Routes: Mapping and Making’, Vivienne Koorland and Berni Searle at Richard Saltoun 6 September 2019, Contemporary Art Society

This exhibition at Richard Saltoun Gallery, curated by acclaimed academic and art historian Tamar Garb, restages works by two of the artists featured in this monumental show, as well as a few of their more recent pieces

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Revisiting the Fiercely Productive Practices of Marginalized Women Artists Related Press Revisiting the Fiercely Productive Practices of Marginalized Women Artists 1 October 2018, Frieze

This year has given birth to many conversations about political regression, including the status of women's rights. A new section at Frieze London, Social Work develops from previous curated sections at the fair: The Nineties in 2016 and Sex Work in 2017. Where Sex Work examined feminist artists of the 1970s, Social Work –put together...

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