From Venice Arte to Venice Architettura Biennale: Peju Alatise will Represent Nigeria at the 2020 Venice Architecture Biennale

Three years after representing Nigeria at her debut pavilion at Venice Arte Biennale, leading Nigerian artist, Peju Alatise has been invited to participate in the main exhibition of the 17th International Architecture Exhibition organized by La Biennale di Venezia.

It is an international full circle moment of sorts for the artist who started her career as an architect, before veering slightly off to become an artist and increasingly finding ways to merge both disciplines in her practice. Alatise will be creating and presenting a new, large-scale site specific installation in line with the exhibition theme titled How will we live together? and curated by Hashim Sarkis. It will be her most ambitious work yet.

“We need a new spatial contract…..In the context of widening political divides and growing economic inequalities, we call on architects to imagine spaces in which we can generously live together. The architects invited to participate in the Biennale Architettura 2020 are encouraged to include other professions and constituencies—artists, builders, and craftspeople, but also politicians, journalists, social scientists, and everyday citizens. In effect, the Biennale Architettura 2020 asserts the vital role of the architect as both cordial convener and custodian of the spatial contract.”

Hashim Sarkis, Curator of Venice Architettura Biennale

Alatise’s installation will draw inspiration from Yoruba folklore and storytelling on understanding, unity and togetherness between cultures. Her selection is undoubtedly reflective of a career-long practice and collaborative work philosophy, where her installations – including the one where she showed at the Venice Arte Biennale – have been realised by working with other artists and builders. In this spirit, in 2018, she founded the Alter Native Artists’ Initiative, a collective to foster knowledge, skills, mentorship exchange, collaboration amongst artists.

A view from inside the Alter Native Artists Initiative (A.N.A.I) Compound in Lagos.
You can view our full feature on the project here.

She joins the 114-participant strong line-up as Nigeria’s sole representative, at the event where the country enjoys a garlanded history. The last Nigerian to participate in the Architecture Biennale was awarded the Silver Lion prize.

Given Alatise’s oeuvre, and the scale of the work she will be presenting, the country will not be remiss to be optimistic.

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