ENTANGLED GEOGRAPHIES - CARVED TO FLOW
Planting a seed in the right soil is not enough to make it sprout. The material and structural conditions around the seed, that may have left it in a state of dormancy, must be taken into consideration to provide fertile ground for thinking about ways in which we work, live and create together. Each element such as the soil, rain, heat and humidity are equally necessary and vital for the process of germination to take place. Carved to Flow – Germination – is envisaged as a structure that can have real impact on lived reality. Using art as a device to reflect on what it means to sculpt or carve possibilities within societies and create collective responses within spaces of crisis riven by war, impacted by ecological shifts, toxicity and other such traumas that force people to move.
It is becoming ever more urgent to understand how entangled our existence is to the very elements we exploit, use or waste. How can we create structures for care and repair? How can we carve or sculpt against the grain to create a flow? How can we work in coherence with the land and mineral body that holds us all? We can no longer ignore the particles we breathe into our lungs, speckled sometimes with particles of arsenic but at other times with the pollen of a jasmine flower. Germination functions as a laboratory space between the imagined and lived experiences which allows for the possibility to explore ideas around ecology, architecture and sustainability.
Otobong Nkanga (b. 1974 Kano, Nigeria; lives and works in Antwerp, Belgium) began her art studies at the Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife, Nigeria, and later continued her studies in Paris at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts. She has been artist-in-residence at the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten in Amsterdam (2002-2004) and she finished her Masters in the Performing Arts at Dasarts, Advanced Research in Theatre and Dance studies, Amsterdam (2005-2008). Furthermore she has been artist-in-residence at the DAAD, Berlin (2014) and at Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin (2019).
Nkanga’s drawings, installations, photographs, videos, sculptures, poetry and performances examine the social and topographical relationship to our everyday environment. By exploring the notion of land as a place of non-belonging, Nkanga provides an alternative meaning to the social ideas of identity. Paradoxically, she brings to light the memories and historical impacts provoked by humans and nature. She lays out the inherent complexities of resources like soil and earth and their potential values in order to provoke narratives and stories connected to land.
Nkanga has exhibited widely in exhibitions around the world, including Documenta 14 (Greece and Germany), Biennale di Venezia (Italy), Sharjah Biennial (UAE) as well as solo presentations at Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (USA) and Tate Modern (UK).
Her most recent solo exhibitions took place at the Henie Onstad Kunstsenter in Høvikodden, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, Tate St Ives, Gropius Bau in Berlin and Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town. For 2021 she is preparing solo exhibitions in Villa Arson (France), Castello di Rivoli (Italy) and Kunsthaus Bregenz (Austria).
Otobong Nkanga is the 1st recipient of the Lise Wilhelmsen Art Award, (Norway – 2019), and was awarded the Peter Weiss Preis (Bochum - 2019), the Special Mention Award of the 58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia (Venice - 2019), the 2019 Sharjah Biennial Award (Sharjah - 2019), the Flemish Cultural Award for Visual Arts - Ultima (Brussels - 2019), the Belgian Art Prize (Brussels - 2017) and the 8th Yanghyun Art Prize (Seoul - 2015).