In this ground-breaking exhibition, Otobong Nkanga seeks to create an intense dialogue with visitors, with the historic St. John’s Hospital, and with Bruges. At this meaningful location, Nkanga wants to ‘heal’ visitors of their injuries, to ‘cure’ them through their connection with her art and in dialogue with the collection of Musea Brugge. Central to this exhibition is the concept of grounding, a theme which runs throughout the entire exhibition display. In this way, she reconnects people with their material, spiritual and cultural environment.
For the ground floor rooms in the St. John’s Hospital, Otobong Nkanga has developed a new version of Taste of a Stone. In the white, stone-strewn landscape of this total installation, she has created a refuge for reflection, dialogue and recovery. At the same time, she also invites visitors to make new connections on and through these stones. In this way, Taste of a Stone also serves as a free podium for word, music, song and performance, allowing the dynamic so generated to become part of the work of art. Further themes include loss, death and rebirth, which are explored in monumental tapestries and textile structures that cover the walls of the museum.
For the magnificent attic of the St. John’s Hospital – famous for its original wooden roof trusses, which are amongst the best preserved in Europe – Nkanga has created another new version of her well-known sculptural work Anamnesis, comprised from the herbs, spices and other raw materials that used to be traded in Bruges. In this way, she connects visitors not only with the memory of Bruges’ past, but also with the original trade routes between Europe and Africa.
Otobong Nkanga concludes her exhibition outside the walls of the museum, in the herb garden of the old pharmacy, where she has intertwined a new poetical structure with the original herbs grown in the garden since medieval times.
Otobong Nkanga (1974 – Kano, Nigeria) is a visual and performance artist, who lives and works in Antwerp. Nkanga focuses on concepts such as identity; raw materials as a symbol for territory, power and conflict; exploitation of the landscape, people and labour; globalisation and transformation. Nkanga’s oeuvre is multi-faceted, including drawings, performances, sculptures and other media.
Otobong Nkanga is regarded worldwide as one of today’s most promising contemporary artists. She has already built up an impressive track record of success, with exhibitions in the Tate Modern in London, Biennale d’art contemporain in Lyon, M HKA in Antwerp, Documenta 14 in Athens and Kassel, and Kunsthaus Bregenz.
She was the first laureate of the Lise Wilhelmsen Art Award (Oslo, 2019), and in addition has received the Peter Weiss Award (Bochum, 2019), a Special Mention Award at the 58th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale (Venice, 2019), the Ultima for Visual Art (Brussels, 2019), the Belgian Art Prize (Brussels, 2017) and the 8th Yanghyun Art Prize (Seoul, 2015).
€ 12 / € 10 (red)
A growth begins fed by the fluids within
Every vein becomes roots digging deep for life
Every tissue forges its routes beneath each sunken wall
Every bark recalls its scars: the melancholy of nightfall
Underneath the shade we lay grounded
- Otobong Nkanga (2021)