The exhibition, her first important exhibition in France, is organized in a deceptively unstructured way (neither chronological nor thematic) occupying the maze like space of the art center at the Villa Arson. It starts with a large photograph made with wallpaper depicting a heterogeneous construction in Curaçao in the Caribbean (Emptied Remains – Assemblage) and ends with the artist’s voice reading a text in the dark (Wetin You Go Do? Oya Na). Both works are based on memories from her childhood. The former through her visual memory of these precarious buildings created from necessity, found in several southern countries such as Nigeria where she grew up. The latter, based on the memory of an oral language which the artist continues to maintain over time, as she prefers speech and dialogue to writing. Also featured in the exhibition are other photographs (mines in Namibia: Emptied Remains), an installation dedicated to the Kolanut (Contained Measures of Kolanut Tales), more or less preparatory sketches, black soap made of multiple essences and produced by and for a foundation created by the artist (Carved to Flow), a circular sculpture made of steel, fire, water and air (Manifest of Strains), a large mural drawing created for the exhibition, as well as a series of tapestries which Nkanga has been producing for the last ten years. Whatever the era, the society or the continent, tapestries have often been used to recount the lives of the people, the power relations between communities, the weight of conflicts and their more or less healed wounds (The Weight of Scars).
But once again, Otobong Nkanga does not wish to stop at the boundaries of History. This is why the title of her exhibition (When Looking Across the Sea, Do You Dream?) takes on the form of a question, and becomes an invitation to look beyond our horizons, beyond clichés and beyond ourselves, an invitation “to go further than Europe, towards other climates, other economies”, as she puts it so well. The title is also the beginning of a short poem which will be continued at the contemporary Art Center The Castello di Rivoli(Italy) at the end of the summer. The Castello di Rivoli is commissioning a series of new works for an exhibition which will be running from September 20, 2021 to January 30, 2022.
The Castello di Rivoli and the Villa Arson are jointly publishing a catalog at Skira editions, which will include new essays and interviews, photographs of the works featured at both venues, and a rich anthology of multidisciplinary texts.
Curator: Éric Mangion
More information here
La Villa Arson
20 Avenue Stephen Liegeard