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60th Venice Biennale: Obaseki showcases MOWAA, global potential of contemporary Nigeria art

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…as ‘Nigeria Imaginary’ exhibition to tour internationally

The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has said that the Nigerian Pavilion at the 60th edition of the Venice Biennale organized by the Museum of West African Art (MOWAA) has showcased the rich potential of contemporary Nigeria art, which mirrors the peculiarities of the country’s present challenges and hopes.

In a speech to the press, he said: “I am serving as Commissioner of the Nigeria Pavilion at the Venice Biennale for the second time, working with the Federal Ministry of Art, Culture and the Creative Economy. I am particularly pleased to see this Nigerian Pavilion unveiled to the world with truly exceptional works by eight outstanding Nigerian artists being showcased in such an extraordinary venue.

“I want to express my profound gratitude to each of them, namely – Tunji Adeniyi-Jones, Ndidi Dike, Onyeka Igwe, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Abraham Oghobase, Precious Okoyomon, Yinka Shonibare CBE RA, and Fatimah Tuggar. Let me also appreciate the Curator – Aindrea Emelife, and the organizer of the programme – the Museum of West African Art, for making the Nigeria Pavilion at the 60th edition of the Venice Biennale such a success.”

On the theme of the exhibition, the governor said: “The ‘Nigeria Imaginary’ is particularly appropriate in view of the challenges we are currently going through as a country. We face what can only be described as an incredibly difficult time in Nigeria with an economic crisis that has caused most Nigerians to see their earnings and savings decimated by devaluation and inflation.

“It is during trying times like this that hope for a better future and a belief in the ability to make a difference become essential. This exhibition – Nigeria Imaginary, looks back to great moments of Nigerian history, imagining where we could have been as a nation, but also invokes hope for a brighter future. The great artistic traditions and rich cultures of Nigeria and West Africa have had and continue to have a profound impact on global arts, music, fashion, and culture.”

Obaseki added, “As some of you may know, this is my last year as Governor of Edo State, and at this stage, one begins to think about legacy, and review what one has managed to achieve in the last 8 years.  I can say unequivocally that the thing that I am the most proud of is igniting the spark that has become the fire called MOWAA, the Museum of West African Art and the 13 acres Cultural District which is now under construction in the historic part of Benin City in Edo State. It is my aspiration that it will serve as the venue for the homecoming of this Nigeria Imaginary exhibition when it comes to Nigeria.”

On requests for the Nigeria Imaginary exhibition to tour internationally, he said, “I am aware and excited that there are already requests for this Nigeria Imaginary exhibition to tour internationally before it comes back to Nigeria. This is clearly an indication and testimony of the quality of what we have been created by these amazing artists.  But when the exhibition eventually comes back to Nigeria, I look forward to seeing the Nigeria Imaginary in its real domicile, and to see all of you at its opening ceremony.”

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