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Venice Biennale 2024: Nigeria set to grace global art stage second time

Venice Biennale 2024: Nigeria set to grace global art stage second time

From May 13-November 26, 2017, the global art community witnessed the debut of Nigeria at the 57th Venice Biennale.

Nigeria’s participation came 122 years after the international cultural exhibition, which is hosted annually in Venice, Italy by the Biennale Foundation, established in 1895.

It also witnessed the presence of Godwin Obaseki, governor of Edo State, who was appointed commissioner of the Nigerian pavilion at the Venice Art Biennale 2017, while Victor Ehikhamenor, a painter; Peju Alatise, a sculptor and Qudus Onikeku, a choreographer, were the three contemporary artists that represented Nigeria with unique works centred on the theme ‘How About NOW?’

Riding on the successful debut in 2017 at the 57th Venice Biennale, Nigeria is set for the 60th Venice Biennale and another highly anticipated participation in the international cultural exhibition.

The 60th edition will take place from April 20-November 24, 2024 to Sunday 24 November, and would be curated by Adriano Pedrosa.

However, Nigeria is returning Governor Obaseki as the commissioner of the Nigerian pavilion at the exhibition with an expanded team of participating artists from three in the debut show to eight, including; Yinka Shonibare, Precious Okoyomon, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Tunji Adeniyi-Jones, Ndidi Dike, Onyeka Igwe, Abraham Oghobase and Fatimah Tuggar.

The country’s exhibition is titled “Nigeria Imaginary,” and would be sited in a historical palazzo in Dorsoduro, near the Gallerie dell’Accademia.

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The pavilion would be curated by Aindrea Emelife, Nigerian-British curator and art historian, who is also the curator of contemporary and modern art at Museum of West African Art (MOWAA) in Edo State.

Emelife proposed the artists’ list and ‘Nigeria Imaginary’, the exhibition’s theme. According to her, the theme will provide a way of looking forward to the future while also looking back.

Of course, Godwin Obaseki, governor of Edo State, would be gracing the event on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Culture and Information, and as the pavilion’s commissioner. The responsibility is following the governor’s efforts at repositioning his state, which is huge on art and culture, for global attention through art and culture infrastructure. One of such development is the forthcoming MOWAA in Edo State.

As well, the Nigerian pavilion’s exhibition is expected to travel to MOWAA in an expanded form in 2025.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian pavilion will be parading two young artists; Adeniyi-Jones and Okoyomon, born in 1992 and 1993, respectively, while Dike and Shonibare, born in 1960 and 1962, respectively, represent the exhibition’s more senior participants. Of all the participating artists, only Dike is based in Nigeria, while Igwe, Okoyomon, and Shonibare are based in London; Ojih Odutola, Adeniyi-Jones, and Tuggar are based in the US; and Oghobase is based in Toronto.

Emelife chose a diverse group of Nigerian and Nigerian diasporic artists in order to reconfigure what a national pavilion means to a global audience.