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Benin's First Venice Biennale Pavilion to be organised by curator and critic, Azu Nwagbogu

The Republic of Benin will make history in 2024 when it presents its first ever national pavilion at the Venice Biennale. This is a significant opportunity for the West African country to showcase its rich cultural heritage and contemporary artistic expressions to a global audience. The participation of Benin at the Biennale is part of its broader policy of engaging in cultural diplomacy and reclaiming its looted art from colonial powers.

Courtesy of Azu Nwagbogu. Photo: Fabian Landewee – LNDWstudio

The curator of Benin's inaugural pavilion is Azu Nwagbogu, a renowned Nigerian Critic and curator and an advocate of African art and photography. Nwagbogu is the founder and director of the African Artists' Foundation (AAF), a non-profit organisation that supports contemporary artists and arts programming in Africa. He also founded the LagosPhoto festival, one of the leading platforms for photography on the continent. He has extensive experience as a curator and museum director, having co-organised exhibitions at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA) in Cape Town, among other institutions. Nwagbogu's vision for Benin's pavilion 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" as stated by Patrice Talon, Benin’s president, who selected Azu Nwagbogu as the curator of the country’s debut pavilion at the 2024 Venice Biennale.

Benin joins a growing number of African nations that have participated in the Venice Biennale in recent years, reflecting a more inclusive and diverse approach by the organisers. In 2019, Ghana and Madagascar made their debuts with acclaimed pavilions, while Cameroon, Namibia and Uganda brought their inaugural pavilions in 2022. The Venice Biennale offers a unique platform for dialogue and exchange among artists, curators, critics and audiences from different cultures and backgrounds. By presenting its first ever pavilion in 2024, Benin hopes to contribute to this global conversation and celebrate its artistic identity.

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Benin's First Venice Biennale Pavilion to be organised by curator and critic, Azu Nwagbogu

March 24, 2023

Art Report Africa

2 min read