On the occasion of the 15th Venice Architecture Biennale:
Reporting from the Front, we went to the opening of the Nigerian Pavilion and had a talk with the curator of the project, Camilla Boemio.
The Nigerian Pavilion has chosen the industrial building Spazio Punch as the ideal location to host the site-specific exhibition of architect and artist Ola-Dele Kuku.
Carla Ingrasciotta: This is Nigeria’s first participation at the Venice Biennale. Could you tell us more about the concept of this new project?
Camilla Boemio: The pavilion can be described through a series of concepts that represent a country which is facing with the world. Nigeria makes the difference from a global point of view. Just think about the fact that the majority of immigrants in Italy comes from Nigeria. This country is a kind of thermometer, it gives us the perception of how much “African” we are, especially because our traditions, our cultures and borders are extremely close to the Afrian ones. For this reason we are more “African” than any other European citizen and this is why the part that I enojoed more in the making of this project was the building of human relationships.
The first concept behind this project is Conflict which is one of the recurrent themes in the work of Ola-Dele Kuku. The architect-artist belives that this is one of the driving mechanisms in our world, and also a tool to set change in motion. The second concept is the Diminished Capacity which intends to analyze an historical transaction moment with the ambition to rewrite history, starting from Nigeria to provide unpublished interpretations.
C.I: I had a chance to meet some of the collaborators of this project. Among them, there are also students. Could you tell me more about the production of the project and the resources that are involved?
C.B.: This is a part that I really care about. Actually the ability of building the pavilion is itself a diminished capacity: we arrived in Venice with really few resources so I had to make a practical and managerial analysis.
I was really happy to collaborate with different people; they were all extremely important for the architectural part of the project. I worked with different associations and Pakistan volunteers that helped us in the construction of the pavilion. It was amazing to interface with different realities and cultures. I do believe that everyone should have the opportunity to do experiences like this because it helps in the cultural improvement. Moreover, we made collaborations with Universities: we put out a call for students from IUAV and Università Politecnica delle Marche and the selected students will be volunteering during the whole time of the Biennale, here at the pavilion. This is what made this project a real example of social architecture.