Berni Searle works with lens-based media—photography, video, and film—to stage narratives connected to history, memory and place. Often politically and socially engaged, her work also draws on the universal emotions associated with vulnerability, loss and beauty.
She received her MFA from the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town (1995).
Solo exhibitions during 2011 included Shimmer at the Stevenson gallery, Cape Town and Interlaced which featured new commissioned work, opened at De Hallen in Bruges, Belgium and travelled to the Museum for Moderne Kunst Arnhem (MMKA) in the Netherlands and Frac Lorraine in Metz France.
Recent group exhibitions include a.o. Senses of Time: Video and Film-based works of Africa. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, USA (2015-2017); The film will always be you. Tate Modern. London, UK (2015); Chroma. Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town (2015), Earth Matters at the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution (2013); Distance and Desire. Encounters with the African Archive. Part II: Contemporary Reconfirgurations at the Walther Collection Project Space, New York, USA (2012); invited guest artist at Dak’Art 2012 (Dakar Biennale), National Gallery, Dakar, Senegal (2012) and Cinema Remixed and Reloaded 2.0. Black women and the moving image since 1970. 11th Havana Biennal (2012).
Other group exhibitions include Figures and Fictions at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (2011); She Devil at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome, MACRO (2011); The Dissolve, SITE Santa Fe, 8th International Biennial, Santa Fe, New Mexico, (2010) and Pictures by Women: A History of Modern Photography, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2010).
She has participated in the 2nd Johannesburg Biennale (1997) the 49th Venice Biennales (2001) and the 51st Venice Biennale (2005). She received the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Visual Art in 2003 and was an Artes Mundi short-listed artist in Cardiff, Wales (2004). In 2000 she was awarded the Minister of Culture Prize at the Dakar Biennale and the UNESCO/AICA Award at the Cairo Biennale (1998).
She was the recipient of the Rockefeller Bellagio Creative Artist Award for 2014, and won the Mbokodo award in 2015.
Michaelis School of Fine Art
University of Cape Town
31 -37 Orange Street Gardens
8001 Cape Town
Tell: 021 650 7111
Fax: 021 424 2889