Nigeria Announces Curator and Artists for National Pavilion in Venice Biennale 2024

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Nigeria is set to dazzle the art world at the prestigious 60th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia with its much-anticipated national pavilion titled “Nigeria Imaginary.” The exhibition, which will run from April 20 to November 24, 2024, is curated by the talented Aindrea Emelife, a Nigerian-British curator and art historian, who currently holds the position of Contemporary and Modern Art curator at the Museum of West African Art (MOWAA) in Benin City, Edo State.

Aindrea Emelife’s impressive background in art history and her expertise in investigating colonial and decolonial histories in Africa, transnationalism, and the politics of representation make her an ideal choice to curate the Nigerian Pavilion. Her recent exhibitions, such as “Black Venus,” a survey of the legacy of Black women in visual culture, have garnered widespread acclaim and have solidified her reputation as a leading curator in the contemporary art scene.

Emelife’s vision for “Nigeria Imaginary” is ambitious and thought-provoking. She seeks to explore the many facets of Nigeria’s identity and history that exist in our collective imagination. The exhibition will delve into the notions of a Nigeria that could be and is yet to be, inviting viewers to contemplate various perspectives and constructed ideas, memories, and nostalgia for the country. By curating a diverse roster of accomplished artists, Emelife aims to capture a sense of optimism that is deeply rooted in Nigeria’s cultural history while embracing the dynamic interplay between tradition and modernity.

The selection of artists for “Nigeria Imaginary” comprises a vibrant mix of talents, each bringing their unique artistic voice to the exhibition. Here are the artists whose works will grace the Nigerian Pavilion:

  1. Tunji Adeniyi-Jones:
    Born in London, UK, in 1992, Tunji Adeniyi-Jones is now based in Brooklyn, New York. He received his Bachelor of Arts from The Ruskin School of Art, Oxford University, and an MFA in painting and printmaking from the Yale School of Art. Adeniyi-Jones’ art showcases a mesmerizing blend of colors and geometric forms, exploring themes of identity and cultural heritage.
  2. Ndidi Dike:
    Ndidi Dike, a multidisciplinary artist, spent her early years in London before relocating to Nigeria. She completed her degree in Fine Arts at the University of Nigeria in Nsukka in 1984. Dike’s art engages with contemporary politics, the geo-political history of natural resource extraction, and the pre- and post-colonial history of the enslaved, among other themes.
  3. Onyeka Igwe:
    Onyeka Igwe was born in London, UK, in 1986. She is an artist and researcher known for her work in cinema and installation. Igwe’s pieces focus on the dissonance and connection between image and sound, weaving a rhythmic editing style into her narratives.
  4. Toyin Ojih Odutola:
    Born in Ile-Ife, Nigeria, in 1985, Toyin Ojih Odutola is renowned for her multimedia drawings and works on paper. She explores the malleability of identity and the possibilities in visual storytelling, particularly fascinated with the topography of skin.
  5. Abraham Oghobase:
    Abraham Onoriode Oghobase, born in Lagos, Nigeria, in 1979, is a visual artist currently living and working in Toronto, Canada. His photography-based practice delves into issues of knowledge production, colonial history, and representation, deconstructing traditional modes of making.
  6. Yinka Shonibare CBE RA:
    Yinka Shonibare was born in London, UK, in 1962, and moved to Lagos, Nigeria, at an early age. Now based in London, his art examines cultural identity, colonialism, and post-colonialism within the context of globalization. Shonibare’s works comment on the complex relationship between Africa and Europe and their respective economic and political histories.
  7. Fatimah Tuggar:
    Fatimah Tuggar was born in Kaduna, Nigeria, in 1967, and currently resides in the United States. Her interdisciplinary art incorporates collage and digital technology to investigate gender, race, and technology narratives. Tuggar’s works draw from diverse cultures, exploring how media and technology interact with local and global realities.
  8. Precious Okoyomon:
    Born in London, UK, in 1993, Precious Okoyomon is both a poet and artist. Their work explores themes of natural world, migration, racialization, and everyday life’s pure pleasures. Okoyomon has garnered international recognition through solo exhibitions at various prestigious institutions.

The Nigerian Pavilion promises to be a celebration of artistic diversity, a testament to the richness of Nigerian culture and heritage, and an exploration of the boundless creativity that emanates from the country and its diaspora. With Aindrea Emelife’s expert curation and the remarkable contributions of these gifted artists, “Nigeria Imaginary” is poised to leave an indelible mark on the global art scene and redefine the world’s perception of Nigerian contemporary art.

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