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Traces of Ecstasy is an adaptation of a pavilion and exhibition project premiering at the Lagos Biennial in February 2024. Guided by the theme of refuge, the Lagos Biennial will be held in Tafawa Balewa Square—a site in central Lagos, named after Nigeria’s first prime minister, that hosted the country’s independence ceremonies in 1960. Traces of Ecstasy critically responds to the charged historical residues of this space, taking its constitutive role in postcolonial nation-building as a point of departure. 

This second, reimagined iteration of Traces of Ecstasy at the ICA continues the Lagos pavilion’s aims to unsettle the colonial capitalist power structures that maintain and reproduce the ideological legitimacy of the nation-state in post/neocolonial Africa. Providing a space for critique, repair, and freedom-dreaming, it features artists from the African continent and its diasporas, such as Nolan Oswald Dennis, Evan Ifekoya, Raymond Pinto, Temitayo Shonibare, and Adeju Thompson. The exhibition presents works spanning sculpture, installation, video, sound, drawing, textile, performance, and digital art, in addition to a reading room and a symposium. 

The project both reflects on the structural violence that permeates the African postcolony and considers the diasporic, transatlantic distance connecting the exhibition’s two sites in Lagos and Richmond. Oriented toward a future horizon of queer, decolonial liberation, Traces of Ecstasy hopes to illuminate alternative, anarchic forms of African collectivity for the twenty-first century.

The ICA’s exhibition is curated by Guest Curator KJ Abudu and coordinated by ICA Curator Amber Esseiva.

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