Nigerian Pavilion
in Venice

Outside the Box

The Inaugural Nigerian Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale – An Excerpt

Fisher Landau Center for Art, Long Island City, NY

Curatorial Statement

Outside the Box, the first-ever Nigerian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, presents works by Nigerian artists who push the conceptual and material boundaries defined by the local and global art worlds. In this innovative exhibition, the "box" represents multiple forces and pressures that restrict the creativity of many Nigerian artists today. Things like: the nation, identity, traditional canons, artistic conventions and the shadow of an essential African identity. Outside the Box brings together four artists whose approaches to art making intentionally question and critique the meanings and forms behind these often-oppressive forces.

Living both in and outside Nigeria, artists Raven Smay, Ego Goodsire, Kirbeh Get and Doundi Victoriana participate in a diverse range of artistic practices. Through socially engaged work, Smay calls attention to the darker side of transnationality for African artists marked by their national identities as they attempt to navigate the global art world. Goodsire, on the other hand, explores the multilayered cultural, political, ethnic and religious identities present within the bounds of modern Nigeria itself. His conceptual and serial photographic projects, which straddle the line between fine art photography and photojournalism, question the unity and existence of a national identity at all. Get, with his design-based conceptual practice, imagines a different future for Africa through the rendering of impossible architectural spaces, while Victoriana’s textile art fashioned from second-hand clothing originating from all over the world revels in materiality and bodily presence.

As Nigeria participates in, perhaps, the ultimate "insider" event of the global art world–the Venice Biennale–its inaugural pavilion exhibition questions the usefulness, or even feasibility, of presenting uniquely "Nigerian" contemporary art to the world. Instead, the artists Smay, Goodsire, Get and Victoriana present work that eludes easy categorization or shallow designation. Outside the Box showcases artistic practices that expand the range of materials, ideas and techniques available to future generations of artists working in Nigeria–and "outside" it.

Aguelike Huckoka

About the Curator

Aguelike Huckoka (b. 1964, Aba, Nigeria)

Aguelike Huckoka is a United States-based art historian, curator, critic and artist. Before moving to the United States, Huckoka received her BFA and MFA from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and her PhD in Art History from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. She currently is Associate Professor of Art History at Emory University in Atlanta, GA.

Huckoka’s research focuses on the development of modernism in Nigeria and in Africa more broadly. She is interested in writing the modern art historical narratives of the continent upon which the work of contemporary artists is built.

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