The announced theme for the pavilion, the confirmed artists and progress report.
At the press conference organized to officially announce the participation of Nigeria at the 57th Venice Art Biennale, Ade Adekola, spokesperson for the steering committee for the pavilion assured the public that preparations are underway for Nigeria to make its debut participation at the world’s grandest art event.
Commissioned by His Excellency, Governor Obaseki of Edo State, the pavilion’s exhibition will be curated by Adenrele Sonariwo and Emmanuel Iduma, and theme of their presentation is “How About NOW”. As mentioned in the brief of the exhibition, the pavilion presents an opportunity for the nation to reflect on its history and heritage and how it will champion current fragmented but interconnected narratives.
Now officially confirmed, the selected visual artists are Victor Ehikhamenor, and Peju Alatise, and Dance / Performance Artist, Qudus Onikeku. Their works will give an insight to contemporary Nigerian life through installations, paintings, and performance.
Governor Obaseki, who was represented by Femi Lijadu at the press event explained that the main reason for commissioning the Nigerian Pavilion is to position Edo State as a pioneer in the arts and culture of Nigeria. The governor has plans to build in Edo state a museum of international standard, which hopefully will help in the fight to repatriate the artefacts of Benin kingdom taken away forcefully in the 19th century.
Victor Ehikhamenor will present a large-scale piece titled The Biography of the Forgotten, which combines abstract shapes and traditional motifs inspired by a study of classical Benin art and the effect of colonialism on cultural heritage. The piece will also be a sort of homage to those who came before him and their contributions to the art world, from the classicists to the modernists.
Peju Alatise, on the other hand, will present the Flying Girls an installation of eight winged life-size girls, based on the story of a ten-year-old girl who works as a housemaid in Lagos. The sculptural installation, which is only one part of the Flying Girls project, is a continuation of Alatise’s advocacy seeking a safer place for the girl child.
Qudus Onikeku’s presentation will be a trilogy of performance films titled Right Here, Right Now as an investigation through dance performance on the workings of the body and memory in connection to national consciousness.
On sponsorship and funding the pavilion, it has been announced that the Ford Foundation, GCA Energy, and Amaya Capital are among corporate bodies, private foundations and well-meaning individuals backing the initiative. This was disclosed by Ike Chioke, a member of the Project Steering Committee for Nigeria in Venice 2017, at another gathering hosted by Arthouse Contemporary Limited. The event had in attendance Godwin Obaseki, Governor of Edo State and Commissioner of the Nigerian Pavilion in Venice.
‘How About NOW?’ will open to the public on May 13, 2017.
Venue: Scoletta dei Tiraoro e Battioro, San Stae, Santa Croce 2059