Benin participates Venice Biennale for the first time

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Everything Precious is Fragile © Photo: Jacopo La Forgia

Benin will participate in the 60th Venice International Art Exhibition from 20 April to 24 November 2024, the country’s first participation in this international event. Their exhibition, titled “Everything Precious Is Fragile,” explores Benin’s history via the slave trade, the figure of the Amazon, and Vodun spirituality.

José Pliya, the commissioner of the Benin Pavilion, states, “Benin will then be, in the words of Léopold Sédar Senghor, at the great ‘rendezvous of giving and receiving.”

The curatorial concept for their exhibition explores Beninese feminism as a common thread connecting the themes of spirituality, Vodun, the figure of the Amazon, and the slave trade. The exhibition aims to showcase the strength and vulnerability of African women’s role in society, both past and present. Through unique artistic approaches, they hope to spark discussion and foster a better understanding of Benin’s cultural heritage. This exhibition is the second step in their political approach to art, with the upcoming creation of the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Cotonou culminating their vision.

Romuald Hazoumè, Ase, 2024 © Photo: Jacopo La Forgia

Azu Nwagbogu is partnered with his curatorial team, which consists of Yassine Lassissi as the curator and Franck Houndégla as the scenographer. Four major artists from Benin (Chloé Quenum, Moufouli Bello, Ishola Akpo, and Romuald Hazoumè) have been selected to represent their country for the 60th edition. The curatorial team aims to convey a narrative of African feminism with a focus on Beninese feminism.

“The pavilion which marks a first in Benin’s artistic history, it aims to be one of the main attractions of this 2024 Biennale. This endeavour is not just a way for Benin to make its presence felt: it also reflects the current dynamic in the development of our arts and the ambitions expressed by our government. By showcasing our artists, our country illustrates the inspiring characterises passion our that creative traditions and highlights the role of the government in supporting this intention.” states Jean-Michel Abimbola, Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts of Benin.

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