Nigeria has announced the artists and curator for its national pavilion at next year's Venice Biennale. The country's second appearance at the international exhibition will include artists such as the British Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare, the Nigerian American artist Toyin Ojih Odutola and the New York-based artist Tunji Adeniyi-Jones. The Nigerian-British curator Aindrea Emelife has been selected as curator.
The pavilion's title is Nigerian Imaginary, is described by Emelife as an exploration of "the many Nigerias that live in our minds". While Nigeria's first pavilion included only Nigerian-based artists, its second will notably feature a mixed group of Nigerian and diasporic artists; Emelife herself is based in London.
Speaking to The Art Newspaper about her relationship to the pavilion as a diasporic curator, Emelife says: "It is complete serendipity that Adriano Pedrosa’s theme for the Biennale is Foreigners Everywhere. It speaks to me as a phrase about movement and evolution, finding one’s home, and exploring one’s attachment to nationhood". Emelife was recently appointed as the curator of the Edo Museum of West African Art (Emowa) in Benin. "Now, as I split my time between Lagos, Nigeria and London, UK—the evocation of the different Nigerias I have known throughout my life comes into sharp focus."
Adeniyi-Jones tells The Art Newspaper the concept of Nigerian Imaginary "presents a chance to tell our own stories, a chance to alter perception, and a moment that will have lasting impact", adding, "I’m thrilled to be included in such a momentous project".
The pavilion is being commissioned by Governor Obaseki of Edo State in Nigeria. The full list of artists includes Ndidi Dike, Onyeka Igwe, Abraham Oghobase, Precious Okoyomon, and Fatimah Tuggar.