For the first time, The Republic of Benin will present a pavilion at the next 60th edition of the International Art Exhibition organized by La Biennale di Venezia (Venice Biennale), to be held in 2024.
World-renowned visionary art curator, Azu Nwagbogu, director and founder of the African Artists’ Foundation, LagosPhoto Festival and recently appointed National Geographic Explorer at Large will curate the pavilion.
Since its inception in 1895, Venice Biennale has established itself as the preeminent contemporary art event in the world, where art and cultural diplomacy converge in what is commonly referred to as the Olympics of the art world.
For The Republic of Benin, this unprecedented participation is part of the dynamics engaged by the West African nation in celebrating its rich cultural history, diversity and talent. More broadly, it parallels President Patrice Talon’s cultural policy agenda, marked by diplomacy around the restitution of Benin’s royal treasures.
In February 2022, President Talon opened a wildly successful hybrid contemporary and historical art exhibition << Art of Benin, yesterday and today from restitution to revelation >> that is traveling and currently on view in Rabat, Morocco.
« We are delighted to have Azu Nwagbogu as the curator of the Bénin National Pavilion. His unique background, vision and expertise in the field of art curation make him the perfect candidate to showcase Bénin’s cultural heritage and contemporary art to the world. »
- Patrice Talon, President of the Republic of Benin.
For this inaugural participation, Nwagbogu was appointed by a joint selection committee headed by the President of the Republic of Benin, Patrice Talon, with members of the National Gallery of Benin as well as the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Arts, Mr. Jean Michel Abimbola.
Nwagbogu will be assisted by Ms. Yassine Lassissi, an art history specialist, curator and Artistic Director La Galerie Nationale and Mr. Franck Houndégla, an architect, scenographer, and designer. Mr. José Pliya, General Director of La Galerie Nationale will serve as the commissioner of the pavilion and will liaise with the various teams involved in realizing the project.
Recently, Nwagbogu’s curatorial practice has seen him focus on restitution and the following discourse to generate new formulations and perspectives about heritage, contemporary visual culture, knowledge generation and social justice.
Nwagbogu’s vision for the project is to contribute to the construction of the intellectual architecture that will allow Benin to sustain and deploy the great artistic potential that springs from its land and has traversed its various diasporas.