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Nigerian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

Visit the Nigerian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale this summer! The group exhibition 'Nigeria Imaginary' in the Palazzo Canal includes work by our newly appointed Associate Professor Onyeka Igwe, as well as by Tunji Adeniyi-Jones who graduated from Ruskin's BFA programme in 2014.

Tunji Adeniyi-Jones, 'Celestial Gathering', 2024 Installation view, Nigeria Imaginary at the Nigeria Pavilion at the 60th International Art Exhibition — La Biennale di Venezia Image: Marco Cappelleti Studio Courtesy: Museum of West African Art (MOWAA)

Onyeka Igwe, 'No archive can restore this chorus of (diasporic) shame', 2024 Nigeria Imaginary at the Nigeria Pavilion at the 60th International Art Exhibition — La Biennale di Venezia Image: Marco Cappelleti Studio Courtesy: Museum of West African Ar

Curated by Aindrea Emelife, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Museum of West African Art in Benin City, Nigeria, the Pavilion aims to inspire visions of a future Nigeria through the examination of the historical past, constructed ideas and nostalgias, mythology and memory. 

"It explores the role of both great moments in Nigeria’s history—moments of optimism—as well as the Nigeria that lives in all of our minds: a Nigeria that could be and is yet to be."

Onyeka Igwe's work  'No Archive Can Restore This Chorus Of (Diasporic) Shame' is a three-part audio-visual installation that explore the role of British colonialism in Nigeria and the future of that legacy for the country. The focus is on the intertwined relationship between the two countries and traces the journey of a collection of film and sound recordings found in the Nigerian Film Unit in Lagos, Nigeria and the old British Empire and Commonwealth Museum in Bristol. Sound and film clips, the audience prompt reflection on record-keeping, the histories selected for posterity, but also thoughts on how the Nigeria of the present will be known in the future.

A portrait of Onyeka Igwe

Placed hanging in the ceiling of one of grand rooms of the Palazzo, Tunji Adeniyi-Jones' dazzling large-scale painting 'Celestial Gathering', draws inspiration from Venetian ceiling painting traditions while also looking to the history of Nigerian art. Modernist legacies are blended with influences from traditional Yoruba sculpture, shown here in life-sized figures depicted in strong, stylised forms among thick foliage in vibrant colour. Adeniyi-Jones says:

"Every memorable Greek myth or fable that we know of has an equally compelling African counterpart, but because of reductive concepts like primitivism, one rarely sees the expansive world of ancient West Africa represented outside of the continent. 

By referencing Venetian artistic traditions as well as highlighting cultural parallels, one can imagine Adeniyi-Jones has placed his work in an alternative history of art, drawing attention to legacies with a contemporary approach.


A portrait of Tunji Adeniyi-Jones

The selected artists for the Pavilion also include Ndidi Dike, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Abraham Onoriode Oghobase, Precious Okoyomon, Fatimah Tuggar, Yinka Shonibare CBE RA.

For more information, please visit the Nigeria Imaginary website: https://www.nigeriaimaginary.com/
The Venice Biennale continues until 24th November.

If you are interested in seeing more of Onyeka Igwe's work, you can visit Arcadia Missa in London where a new video work 'The Miracle on George Green' will be on show until 24th July. Please visit their website for further information: https://arcadiamissa.com/onyeka-igwe-miracle-on-george-green/