Siemon Allen is a South African artist whose research-based studio practice reflects a number of distinct yet interconnected processes where overlapping interests in aesthetics and politics lead to works loaded with historical significance and visual magnitude. Allen creates large-scale architectural displays that explore the construction of national identity while challenging the divisions between sculpture, painting, drawing, and photography. He systematically accumulates mass-produced cultural artifacts including postal stamps, newspapers, old film stock, trading cards, comics, and audio recordings which he then catalogs and repurposes. His approach is not unlike that of an archivist — each collected item brings with it the narrative of its production, dissemination, and function.
Siemon received his MFA from the Durban University of Technology in 1999 and was a founding member of the FLAT Gallery, an artists’ initiative in Durban. He has exhibited nationally and internationally at venues including the 2011 Venice Biennale, the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin, The Renaissance Society in Chicago, the Johannesburg Art Gallery, Iziko Slave Lodge, the 2nd Johannesburg Biennale in South Africa, and at the Whitney Museum, Artists Space, WhiteBox, and Momenta in New York City.
Siemon was a recipient of a Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in 2013 and a Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Professional Fellowship in 2006. His work is represented in a number of collections including the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Virginia Museum of Fine Art and Royall Collection in Richmond, and the Gordon Schachat Collection, BHP Billiton, and Standard Bank Collections in South Africa.
From 2000 to 2016, Siemon was a visiting artist and adjunct professor in the Department of Sculpture + Extended Media at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. Since 1999 he and his partner, Kendall Buster, have collaborated on more than 25 large-scale site-specific sculpture commissions. Siemon has also been a regular contributor to the music blogs Electric Jive and Flatint. His ongoing web-based, visual archive of rare South African audio can be viewed at flatinternational.org.