The opening of the debut Nigerian Pavilion at the 57th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale was preceded by a series of unfortunate and unexpected events. The biennale is widely regarded as “the Olympics of visual art”, ergo the biggest art exhibition in the world, where 88 of the globe’s 196 nations are represented.
Recognising what was at stake and the power of first impressions, Nigeria sought to make an indelible one. It was to feature two visual artists, Victor Ehikhamenor and Peju Alatise, and a performance artist, Qudus Onikeku, in an immersive exhibition and meditation on time — Nigeria’s past, present and future — titled How About NOW? and curated by former accountant turned gallerist Adenrele Sonariwo.
Six weeks before the Biennale opened, Nigeria lost its first exhibition space. Its two-year best-laid plans for its first Biennale entry momentarily fell apart.
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