Speculations are finally put to rest with the official announcement of a Nigerian Pavilion at the 57th Venice Art Biennale VIVA ARTE VIVA, which will run from May 13 to November 26, 2017
The global importance of participating at the Venice Biennale cannot be overemphasised. In the last three editions, some Nigerians, either as a non-governmental body or in collaboration with the government, have made efforts to set up a pavilion for the country. In 2015, artist and architect, Ola-Dele Kuku, with the support of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture and contribution of Lagos-based Arthouse Contemporary, gave the country its first national pavilion presentation at the Venice Architecture Biennale. However, the country is only now realising the dream of participating in the international art exhibition which is a more popular event. Other African countries including Kenya, South Africa, Angola, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, among others have had pavilions at Venice Biennale in the past.
This year, Nigeria joins about 80 other countries, four of which are participating for the first time, as national participants. Nigerian artists, Peju Alatise, Victor Ehikhamenor, Qudus Onikeku and filmmaker Wana Udobang, are showing works curated by Adenrele Sonariwo, as part of the Biennale. The pavilion’s commissioner is Godwin Obaseki, the current Governor of Edo State.
When the curator was contacted on what to expect at the pavilion, she replied that official statements will be released soon.
Get familiar with the artists.
Peju Alatise
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Peju Alatise is a mixed-medium artist. She has a degree in architecture and is also a skilled poet and writer with novels published. She has practised as a studio artist for over thirteen years, addressing social, political and gender issues as subject matters. Her works have also captured the joys and pains of womanhood with their consequences as experienced in modern-life-African traditions. Her interest areas evolve with continued experiences along the path of advocating the equal rights of women to politics and philosophical inclination.

Peju has held several solo exhibitions and her works are in private and institutional collections around the world.

Victor Ehikhamenor
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Victor Ehihkamenor is a prolific visual artist, writer, and photographer. He has been described as “one of Africa’s most innovative contemporary artists” and listed as one of “42 African Innovators to Watch”. His works are often abstract, symbolic and politically motivated and are influenced by the duality of African traditional religion and the interception of Western beliefs, memories and nostalgia. The symbols and motifs in his art are reminiscent of his childhood village shrines art as well as the Catholicism that was inherent in his village. Ehikhamenor’s images always work as a proliferation of forms – of figures, shapes and appearances.
His fictional work “Madam” and the drawings “Postcards from Italy” were part of the German Pavilion exhibition at the 56th Venice Biennale, “All the World’s Future”, curated by Okwui Enwezor. He was also one of the eleven Nigerian artists at the 2015 Jogja Biennale in Indonesia where he presented his monumental installation, “The Wealth of Nations”.
Qudus Onikeku
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Celebrated dancer and one of the most pre-eminent choreographers in Nigeria, Qudus Onikeku, creates a physical movement activity that fuses dance and acrobatics. Often inspired by his Yoruban culture, Onikeku conducts artistic research in Africa and has toured the United States, the Caribbean and Europe with artists including Heddy Maalem, Christophe Abdul Onibasa, George Lavaudent, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Jean Claude Galotta.  In 2004, Qudus created his first solo piece, Lost Face. In 2007, he created an alternative space project Do we need cola-cola to dance?. In 2009, he created I must Set Forth, a prefiguration of his 2010 creation My Exile is in my Head which is the first part of a trilogy. The piece gathered a remarkable success and was named the laureate of the solo category at the Danse L’Afrique Danse 2010 in Bamako. In 2011, Qudus was commissioned by Festival d’Avignon and SACD to create STILL/life for Festival d’Avignon 2011.
Onikeku’s work is influenced by Nigerian dance, hip hop, acrobatics, and more, and tends to explore themes of identity and exile.
Wana Udobang
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Wana is a multimedia journalist, poet and filmmaker whose work is at the intersection of women’s rights, personal narratives, culture and the arts. Her short film series, ROOM 313 has gained wide recognition.

She has worked with the BBC Radio4,  BBC world service, 92.3 Inspiration FM and Resonance FM. Her work has appeared on Aljazeera, Guardian UK, Guardian Nigeria, Index on Censorship, Brittle Paper, and the Huffington Post. In 2016 she was long-listed for the One World Media award in the Women’s rights in Africa for her story on the Mirabel rape crisis centre for Aljazeera. She is a recipient of the International Reporting Project(IRP) fellowship and the Gabriel Garcia Marquez fellowship.