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Nigeria Has Announced The Details For Its National Pavilion At The 2024 Venice Biennale

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Nigeria will take part in the Venice Biennale for the second time in its history in 2024, and the details for its national pavilion have been announced.

The exhibition, titled “Nigeria Imaginary,” will showcase eight Nigerian and Nigerian-diasporic artists from different generations. It will be sited in a historical palazzo in Dorsoduro, near the Gallerie dell’Accademia.

These artists include Tunji Adeniyi-Jones, Ndidi Dike, Onyeka Igwe, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Abraham Oghobase, Yinka Shonibare, Fatimah Tuggar, and Precious Okoyomon, whose participation in the main display at the 2022 Venice Biennale catapulted her to stardom.

The eight participating artists in the 2024 Nigerian Pavilion. From left, top row: Tunji Adeniyi-Jones, Ndidi Dike, Onyeka Igwe, and Toyin Ojih Odutola; bottom row: Abraham Oghobase, Precious Okoyomon, Yinka Shonibare, and Fatimah Tuggar.
Image courtesy of Artnews.

Godwin Obaseki, the governor of Nigeria’s Edo State, is the pavilion’s commissioner on behalf of the country’s Federal Ministry of Culture and Information, with the upcoming Museum of West African Art (MOWAA) in Edo (formerly known as EMOWAA) serving as the event’s official organiser. The pavilion’s exhibition will travel to MOWAA in an expanded form in 2025.

Obaseki said in a statement, “This exhibition, envisioned by Ms. Emelife with a diverse roster of accomplished artists, encourages us to revisit the past in order to create a bright future for Nigeria.”

Nigerian-British curator and art historian Aindrea Emelife, curator of contemporary and modern art at MOWAA, has been selected as the pavilion’s curator. She proposed the artist list and exhibition theme, which she said will provide “a way of looking forward to the future while also looking back—their modernity is very much rooted still in this embrace of tradition.”

In an interview with ARTnews, Emelife said, “I sat down and started to think about what I feel the world needs to know about Nigeria now. Being a Nigerian who is also in the diaspora, I started to think about the ways that I’ve seen Nigeria and the way that I feel other people have been looking at Nigeria. In many ways, the imagination can be such a fertile and powerful tool of liberation. In the imaginary, we can dream but we can also reckon with ideas of utopia.”

She hoped to accomplish this by presenting “different perspectives of Nigeria—cross-generationally, cross-disciplinary—so the exhibition can allow the viewer to forge many different relationships with Nigeria through different minds. But also, the many different artists can reckon with their heritage and views of Nigeria in their special way.”

While the pavilion includes established artists like Shonibare and Ojih Odutola and closely watched rising stars like Okoyomon and Adeniyi-Jones, their work will be juxtaposed alongside the work of artists, like Oghobase, Tuggar, Igwe, and Dike, who are less known internationally. Similarly, she wanted to select artists working in a range of mediums, from painters like Ojih Odutola and Adeniyi-Jones to artists like Okoyomon, whose work she said posits “future possibilities of Land art,” and Tuggar, whose interdisciplinary work “looks at new relationships with the digital world.”

Author

Iyanuoluwa Adenle is a graduate of Linguistics and African Languages from Obafemi Awolowo University. She is a creative writer and art enthusiast with publications in several journals. She is a writer at Art News Africa.

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