Okwui Enwezor, a little known Nigerian American, international art curator, passed away.
"I was born after the Nigeria independence, in an open world, where anything was possible. We were not afraid of anything. We were given a taste for adventure, with respect, " said Okwui Enwezor at the Journal des Arts as he prepared for the 2012 “ Triennale “. A few days after his dead from cancer to age 55 years old, one thing is clear: the exhibition curator has followed exactly what appears to be a program of life.
Born in Nigeria in 1963, he lived there long enough to immerse himself in African culture and plan to follow another life program. At the age of 18, he moved to New York to study political science. But art attracts him more, especially if it is to highlight the African artists. In 1994, he founded with others a journal dedicated to contemporary African art: NKA, Journal of Contemporary African Arts.
Very quickly, he passes from observer to actor status. In 1996 he was one of the first to reveal African photographers in an exhibition in an annex of Guggenheim museum. The following year, he is the curator of the second Johannesburg Biennale of Contemporary Art. He will say later : "It may seem presumptuous, but my main goal for this second edition was to see if we could reinvent the biennale concept as an international exhibition, and know how to organize a world exhibition of large scale without falling into the spectacular. "
The event and its approach to the subject give it an international visibility that leads the organizers of the “Documenta” to entrust the artistic direction of the 2002 edition, a first, for a non-European. The many contacts he made in Germany led him to accept the management of the “Haus der Kunst “in Munich in 2011, an art center housed in a building built under the Nazi regime, where he leads an ambitious program.
France then calls him to organize a long-running event, the Triennale de l'art . Supposed to support only the French creation, it moves into an international panorama that the curator defends as: "The Triennale is not there to support a national art. It would be a disaster, a totally counter-productive operation that would lock up creators, cutting them off from the global economy. "
In 2015, came the consecration, he was the first artistic director of African origin of the Venice Biennale. A very political edition echoing the convulsions of the world entitled " All the futures of the world".
Unfortunately the disease had to put an end to this brilliant and disruptive journey. In 2018 he announced that he had to leave “Haus der Kunst “for health reasons.