Venice Biennale 2024: Nigerian Pavilion to tackle End Sars and Benin Kingdom looting


Nigeria will participate in the 2024 Venice Biennale as the nation’s pavilion is set to address the looting of the ancient Benin Kingdom. The pavilion will also exhibit works made in collaboration with the Museum of West African Art (MOWAA).

Who are the participating artists?

Tunji Adeniyi-Jones, Ndidi Dike, Onyeka Igwe, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Abraham Oghobase, Precious Okoyomon, Yinka Shonibare and Fatimah Tuggar.

Why it matters?

It is the second time Nigeria will be represented at the exhibition and the pavilion has been commissioned by Godwin Obaseki, the governor of Edo State, on behalf of Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Art, Culture and the Creative Economy, with MOWAA as its official organiser.

According to a statement, Yinka Shonibare’s sculptural installation is “based on the majestic, historic artworks created in the Kingdom of Benin and subsequently looted by British forces in the Benin Expedition of 1897.”

Recall that the Nigeria National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) recently stepped in to take possession of returning Benin bronzes that were looted from the West African kingdom after the current Oba of Benin raised opposition to the new organization tasked with establishing a museum for the contested artefacts.

Other art exhibitions include

  • A sound installation by the artist Precious Okoyomon, which consists of “a radio tower-turned-instrument” and will transmit the confessions of poets, artists, and writers.
  • Abraham Onoriode Oghobase’s work “parallels between the mining of the landscape and the exploitation of labour.”
  • Toyin Ojih Odutola’s work on the sacred indigenous Igbo art, ‘Mbari House’ will be presented by Ojih Odutola.
  • Ndidi Dike’s two-part work on the 2020 End Sars protest.
  • Fatimah Tuggar’s use of augmented reality to explore the erosion of vernacular Hausa architecture.
  • Onyeka Igwe’s three-part audio-visual series on colonialist legacies.

Projects set to be exhibited within the pavilion are

– “The Nigeria Imaginary Colloquium” where objects from both the country’s present-day and historical past.

– “The Nigeria Imaginary Incubator Project”, which was realised in 2023 by MOWAA.