Artist Nolan Oswald Dennis‘ exhibition « Conditions » at the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg, South Africa, shows a series of works centered on the figure of the globe through September 11, 2021.

By assembling the structure in different configurations, Nolan Oswald Dennis presents alternative views of our world as an approach to considering further opportunities.

He proposes with « Conditions », different universes, an existence similar to that of the planet. A planet made whole as indigenous land and life; an eccentric planet made just, women’s activist, socialist, a planet turned south, east and water. In sum, a biology of the black planets, a kind of cosmography where black is a vector that opens the secret states of existence.

 Nolan Oswald Dennis presents « Conditions » at the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg
model for Theia (white)
altered PET plastic globe model, synthetic stone finish and white primer
30 x 23 x 14 cm

The round globe is the idealized figure of the planet in Western cosmology: coherent, smooth, unitary and comprehensible. Against this image of the world, Nolan Oswald Dennis proposes a progression of changes to the sphere, twisting and expanding the model to discover this space for different universes, other potential global outcomes.

In reality, the geometry of the globe is a more flawed spheroid structure. By moving us away from the dominant dispassionate circle, abstracting the ancient image of the globe, it brings the visitor closer to the state of the real planet and presents it as a complex topological figure that arises from and converges with the world it prefigures. While maintaining essential sculptural models for a series titled « a black cosmography », which references planetary symbolism in popular culture, explicitly « Fear of a Black Planet » by Public Enemy and the album « A New Myth » by The Brother Moves On. Or globes are also driven by speculation about matter in the standard model of molecular matter science, as is the multiverse hypothesis in cosmology.

 Nolan Oswald Dennis presents « Conditions » at the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg
untitled (for Achebe)
ink drawing on altered map
46 x 63 cm

Dennis adopts a strategy of frameworks to plan new models to imagine the planet and the world it contains.

For these conditions, he sets up another model of Earth framework called « jardin pour le fanon », a continuous exploration project, an educational program for mud started in 2017 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or he thinks about the ground as a model of social and political life on this planet. To do this, a bio-specialized gadget changes the texts of the black liberation archive into soil, in a joint effort with an area of earthworms.

Throughout the exhibition, the worms devour the cellulose strands of the books, turning them into tissue, energy, heat, and fecal matter that prepare the earth. In doing so, the work is a signal to offer information to the worms and the earth itself, creating states of plausibility in which a larger group can see the world in unexpected ways.

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Who is Nolan Oswald Dennis?

 Nolan Oswald Dennis presents « Conditions » at the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg
binary model (a two body problem)
altered calabash and PET plastic globe model, synthetic stone finish, black primer, cowry shell veil and aluminium rod
28.3 x 97.1 x 32.2 cm

Nolan Oswald is a Zambian interdisciplinary artist residing in Johannesburg, South Africa. His practice investigates what he calls a black consciousness of space: the material and extraterrestrial states of decolonization.

He holds a Bachelor of Architecture and a Master of Science in Art, Culture and Technology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His work challenges governmental questions of existence through an explicit framework rather than a site-specific methodology.

He is interested in the secret constructs that predestine the limits of our social and political creative minds. Through a language of graphics, drawings, and models, he investigates a secret scene of methodical and primary conditions that constitute our political subplot. This sub-space is delineated by frames that cross many domains (specialized, spiritual, monetary, mental, etc.) and thus his work can be seen as an attempt to interface these sometimes restrictive, sometimes correlative frames.

Nolan Oswald Dennis‘s work can therefore be seen as an attempt to interface these frameworks, sometimes contradictory, sometimes integral.

Dennis is the 2016 winner of the FNB Arts Prize and has participated in a handful of exhibitions, including the ninth Berlin Biennale in 2016, the Congo Biennale in 2019, the Museu d’Art Contemporani in Barcelona, the Architekturmuseum der TU München, the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, Lieu Unique in Nantes, and is currently at the Delfina Foundation in London for a residency.

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