Nigeria is set to make its mark at the 2024 Venice Biennale with its national pavilion, titled “Nigeria Imaginary.” This will be the country’s second participation in the esteemed global art event. The exhibition will feature nine talented Nigerian and Nigerian diasporic artists, presenting a captivating mix of intergenerational creativity. The pavilion will be located in a historic palazzo in Dorsoduro, near the Gallerie dell’Accademia.
Artist lineup includes Tunji Adeniyi-Jones, Ndidi Dike, Onyeka Igwe, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Abraham Oghobase, Yinka Shonibare, Fatimah Tuggar, and Precious Okoyomon. Their unique contributions will showcase the richness of Nigerian artistry. The exhibition’s theme, “Nigeria Imaginary,” curated by Nigerian-British art historian Aindrea Emelife, aims to blend tradition and modernity.
The Nigerian pavilion strives to redefine the concept of a national showcase and broaden its appeal to a global audience. By juxtaposing renowned artists like Shonibare and Ojih Odutola with rising stars like Okoyomon and Adeniyi-Jones, the pavilion promises a dynamic experience. The inclusion of lesser-known artists, like Oghobase, Tuggar, Igwe, and Dike, enriches the exhibition, offering a wide range of artistic practices.
Promoting Nigerian Art on the International Stage
With only nine out of 54 African countries organizing national pavilions at the 2022 Biennale, Nigeria’s participation demonstrates its commitment to promoting its vibrant art scene on the international stage. The forthcoming Museum of West African Art (MOWAA) in Edo, formerly known as EMOWAA, plays a pivotal role in organizing the pavilion. Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State serves as the commissioner, representing Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Culture and Information.
Emelife’s curatorship envisions a harmonious and cohesive presentation of Nigerian art. The exhibition celebrates Nigeria’s cultural heritage while exploring fresh ideas and perspectives that resonate globally.
Nigeria’s art scene has continued to flourish, gaining international recognition and appreciation. The selection of seven Nigerian photographers, including Oghobase, in the 2023 edition of the Museum of Modern Art’s “New Photography” series illustrates the growing acclaim of Nigerian artistry.
As one of the few African countries participating in the 2024 Venice Biennale, Nigeria’s pavilion is set to make a vibrant and meaningful impact. “Nigeria Imaginary” will showcase the nation’s creative spirit and unique artistic expression to a global audience, fostering greater appreciation for Nigerian art and culture worldwide.