In this ground-breaking exhibition, Otobong Nkanga interweaves a variety of different artistic forms, such as installations, sculptures, drawings, tapestries and poetry. On the ground floor and in the imposing wooden attic of the St John's Hospital, she creates a dialogue between her own works of art (some new and some pre-existing) and works of art she has selected from the collection of Musea Brugge. At the same time, she also wishes to create a parallel dialogue with visitors, with the historic St. John’s Hospital, and with the city of Bruges. Otobong Nkanga creates an environment where visitors can come to rest. A place for contemplation and relaxation, through connection with her art.
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 – for which she uses no less than 50 tons of white pebbles and stones – she has created a refuge for reflection, dialogue and recovery. 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 – Otobong Nkanga has created a 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.
"What resonates is the universe that Nkanga builds in Bruges, around topical themes such as identity and grounding, care and healing. It is virtuoso and therapeutic, powerful and at the same time light-hearted. By concentrating on the tactile and the tender, it shows a rarely seen generosity.”
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 important 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)