Amsterdam Art Week 17–27 Juni 21 Amsterdam Art Week 17–27 Juni 21 Amsterdam Art Week 17–27 Juni 21

Otobong Nkanga Revelations, 2020 tapestry. Courtesy of the artist

A few years after her last exhibition in Amsterdam, Otobong Nkanga (b. Nigeria, 1974) is back at Lumen Travo gallery with the solo show Lingering on the rim. The condensed but very diverse selection of works exhibited here offers a glimpse into Nkanga’s multidisciplinary practice, which spans tapestry, drawing, photography, installation, video, and performance.  

The textile piece Revelations addresses the politics of land and its relationship to the body, as well as the complex and fraught histories of land acquisition and ownership, by connecting threads that reveal the entanglements of bodies, land and natural resources. Nkanga is concerned with raw material production, and how mining and other forms of extraction leave irreversible traces in the landscape. 

Following a similar approach, the installation Tsumeb fragments (2015) is a small cluster of interconnected tables which gather together malachite stones, archival photographs, and shreds of copper. The formation of the tables and the choice of objects question standard assumptions of display. Materials that are usually dispersed across diverse sites and archives are brought together.

Full of literary, religious, and geological references, Nkanga’s work sheds light on how production affects both humans and nature, but also the world’s dependence on this circulation of goods. The theme is often given a poetic setting, where the titles are central to the understanding of the pieces. 

In 2019, Nkanga won the Lise Wilhelmsen Art Award, the Peter-Weiss-Preis, and the Flemish government’s Ultima prize for culture. She received a special mention at the 58th Venice Biennale for her ongoing cross-media exploration of the politics of land, body, and time. Nkanga is also the recipient, with Emeka Ogboh, of the Sharjah Biennial 14 Prize. She was awarded the Yanghyun Prize in 2015, and the Belgian Art Prize in 2017. 

Recent exhibitions include Uncertain where the next wind blows at Henie Onstad, Høvikodden, Norway (2020), There’s no such thing as solid ground, Gropius-Bau, Berlin (2020), Acts at the Crossroads, Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Cape Town (2019), and From where I stand, Tate St. Ives (2019). She has an upcoming solo show at the Castello di Rivoli in 2021.

Lingering on the rim

Otobong Nkanga (NG, 1974)