Nigerian-Belgian artist Otobong Nkanga lives and works in Antwerp. She began her art studies at the Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife, Nigeria and continued at the École Superieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, France. In 2008 she obtained her Masters in the Performing Arts at Dasarts, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Otobong Nkanga’s drawings, installations, photographs and sculptures variously examine ideas around land and the value connected to natural resources. In her work, 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 for ‘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.
Recent shows and performances include: To Dig a Hole That Collapses Again, MCA Chicago (2018); The Tanks, Tate Modern, London, UK (2017); Carved To Flow, Documenta 14, Athens, Greece/Kassel, Germany (2017); The Encounter That Took a Part of Me, Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham, UK (2016); Bruise and Lustre, MHKA Anvers (2015); Comot your Eyes Make I borrow you Mine, Kadist Foundation Paris (2015); Diaspore, 14 Rooms Basel, Switzerland, (2014); In Pursuit of Bling, 8th Berlin Biennale, Berlin, Germany (2014).