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Revisiting Nigeria Imaginary

“One of the most ambitious African presentations ever at the Venice Biennale.” -Siddhartha Mitter, New York Times

As we reflect on the recent opening week of the Venice Biennale, we here at the Museum of West African Art (MOWAA) want to take this opportunity to thank you for your support of this pivotal endeavour. Over the course of the week, we had the opportunity to reveal the Nigeria Pavilion to esteemed members of the art community and share our expansive vision for the exhibition and the Museum. The feedback we received was overwhelmingly positive and reinforced our belief in the significance of this undertaking.

(c) Jason Schmidt. Courtesy of T Magazine.

The success of the Nigeria Pavilion (commissioned by His Excellency Godwin Obaseki, Governor of Edo State, in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Art, Culture and the Creative Economy under the leadership of Honourable Minister Barr. Hannatu Musa Musawa) was highly dependent on your presence, interaction, and continued interest. From our VIP Preview—with words from none other than Wole Soyinka, to our VIP Dinner—with a carefully crafted menu by King the Chef, to our VIP Party –with memorable performances from DJ Kem Kem and Made Kuti, your participation –event after event –ensured success after success.

Sited in a historical palazzo in Dorsoduro, near the Gallerie dell’Accademia, this year marked Nigeria’s second time participating in the Venice Biennale. Titled “Nigeria Imaginary,” this year’s exhibition, curated by Aindrea Emelife, featured an intergenerational group of eight Nigerian and Nigerian diasporic artists– Tunji Adeniyi-Jones, Ndidi Dike, Onyeka Igwe, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Abraham Oghobase, Yinka Shonibare CBE RA , Fatimah Tuggar, and Precious Okoyomon.

"What I've seen today, for me, has been most fulfilling. It's replete on its own. It's both artistic, historic, evocative. It goes from lyrical, the lyrical, to the, how do you say, the contrasting, kind of statuesque aspect of our society.”
― Wole Soyinka

With a remarkable daily attendance, the exhibition captured the imagination of a global audience, drawing widespread acclaim and recognition. For those interested in delving deeper into the event’s significance and reception, a diverse array of press coverage is accessible, providing valuable insights into the exhibition’s cultural impact and critical reception.

With the exhilarating success of the Nigeria Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, we eagerly anticipate the next chapter of our journey. In 2025, the exhibition will return to its place of curatorial conception back home in Nigeria.  Marking a momentous occasion in the annals of Nigerian artistry, we at MOWAA continue to prepare for this homecoming, whereupon our Rainforest Gallery will home, as its inaugural exhibition, the Nigeria Imaginary.

The Nigeria Pavilion at the 60th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia is officially open!

Running until Sunday 24 November 2024.

Open Tues-Sun 11h00–19h00

“Curator Aindrea Emelife has spearheaded a new wave of contemporary artists at the Venice Biennale's second-ever Nigerian Pavilion. Here, she talks about what the world needs to learn about African art.”
― Wallpaper