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Otobong Nkanga

°1974, Kano (NG) – lives and works in Antwerp (BE)

In the work of Otobong Nkanga, activities and performance permeate all kinds of media and motivate photography, drawing, painting, sculpture, installation and video, though all the different works are thematically connected through architecture and landscape. As a human trace that testifies of ways of living and environmental issues, architecture and landscape act as a sounding board for narration and ‘the performative’. According to the artist herself, she uses her body and voice in live performances or in videos to become the protagonist in her work.

However, her presence serves mostly as a self-effacing catalyst, an invisible hand that sets the artistic process in motion. Nkanga negotiates the completion of the cycle of art between the aesthetic realm of display and a strategy of de-sublimation that repeatedly pushes the status of the artwork into contingency. In many of her works Nkanga reflects metonymically on the use and cultural value connected to natural resources, exploring how meaning and function are relative within cultures, and revealing different roles and histories for the same products, particularly within the context of the artist’s autobiography and memories.

(courtesy of In Situ / Fabienne Leclerc)

Otobong Nkanga’s recent solo shows include Nottingham Contemporary; Kadist Foundation, Paris; Portikus, Frankfurt; M HKA, Antwerp; Stedelijk, Amsterdam; and Tate Modern, London. Nkanga will have a big solo exhibition at MCA, Chicago in 2018. Group shows include WIELS, Brussels; Moderna Museet, Stockolm; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Smithsonian, Washington DC; Kunsthal Charlottenbourg, Copenhagen; Bozar, Brussels; and Kunsthalle Bern. She also participated at the biennales of Gwangju, Lyon, Sydney and São Paulo – among others.

Otobong Nkanga’s work is currently show at Documenta 14 and was awarded the 2017 Belgian Art Prize at Bozar, Brussels on 19 April. 

Otobong Nkanga is represented by the following galleries;
click through to discover more of her work.

InSitu / Fabienne Leclerc, Paris  

Lumen Travo, Amsterdam