The most prestigious contemporary visual art exhibition in the world, Venice Biennale, is hosting a Nigeria pavilion in its 57th edition. Check out some of the Nigerian pieces on display.
The Venice Biennale, the most prestigious contemporary visual art exhibition in the world, in its 57th edition is hosting a Nigeria pavilion, for the first time ever and Nigeria is heavily represented at the Venice Biennale art exhibition by three of the country's talented artist, Victor Ehikhamenor, Peju Alatise, and performance artist, Qudus Onikeku. This is why you need to see the exhibitions. I mean, where else wound you rather be?
The exhibition theme "How about Now", reflects on the question of Now.
For the Venice Biennale, Victor Ehikhamenor has written a book of memory, "The Biography of the Forgotten." Only this time the pages are on canvas, bronze heads and mirrors. In this work, Ehikhamenor retells artistic history as should have been. Previously the story has been altered by hunters; colonial marauders, as the artist puts them. Victor Ehikhamenor remembers the classicists, Benin bronze casters, their work as ancient as time itself. Colonial history marked their work as primitive yet some of their most exquisite creations were stolen from the Benin Empire and scattered across the world. Who steals what has no value?
Ehikhamenor remembers the modernists, pioneers of a new era of art in Nigeria, founder of art schools, teachers, trailblazers who helped pave the way for what exists now. Ehikhamenor then acknowledges his contemporaries, of now, of today who have been following the guiding light of those who came before and without whom they would be lost. Ehikhamenor urges us from NOW and always to keep vigil, calls us to the duty of remembering.
Alatise's work, "Flying Girls", imagines a painfully urgent alternate world for the girl child. In recent times, she has come under attack and this is by no means, an exaggeration. Laws have been preserved allowing female children to be married off. Over 200 Chibok girls were stolen from their families, their education and chances of a future by a terrorist group, Boko Haram. Nearly on a weekly basis, clickbait headlines tell of female babies, girls being raped; their worth calculated in pleasures they can offer the man.
Alatise calls attention to these and more in what is likely to be a seminal work: Flying Girls. As if to, unfortunately, make her point, when the installation was being prepared to be shipped, the men who came to carry out the work immediately sexualized the girls. Alatise shared that they pinched their breasts and bottoms, discussing which ones were ready for marriage or the taking. The girls are no more than nine years old.
Onikeku on his part is involved in the Yoruba spirituality which to him "carefully outlines the significance of the self, of altering, of the commune, and of the divine, in its imagination of the role of aesthetics, beauty and art."
"My role as a dancer is to look for ways to not only go through my journey but to also trigger the body memory of my audience. As a colonised people, we have lost track of many things. What's the role of my lineage in the story of Nigeria for example? If you stay with the official narrative, how do you trace back all the way to a space where you can rewrite precolonial memory?"
So basically, your stay in Venice isn't complete without exploring the beauty of art at the Nigeria pavilion in Venice Biennale exhibition.