Until January 7, 2024, the Institut Valencià Art Modern (IVAM) welcomes Otobong Nkanga for his exhibition “Craving for Southern Light“. This artistic presentation invites art lovers to a total immersion in the world and artistic practice of this contemporary artist. The exhibition brings together a large selection of Otobong Nkanga‘s work. It represents a unique opportunity for visitors to explore the evolution of her artistic practice over the last twenty years.
Otobong Nkanga presents a rich and wide-ranging selection of works at the art center, including sculptures, performances, drawings, textiles, poems, objects and an installation specially conceived for the IVAM art space. Born in Kano, Nigeria, in 1974, she uses a wide range of artistic media to express her art. She analyzes the notion of the earth, substituting it for a geological and Cartesian formation. The use of her various artistic media enables her to deeply examine our social and topographical relationship with our everyday environment.
The Nigerian artist perceives the earth as a place of non-belonging, offering a random understanding in favor of social ideas of identity. She uses other materials such as stone, fabrics and plants to give a precise connotation to these installations. In this way, these raw materials serve as clues to lead the public to the precise theme she is addressing: the earth and the people who live on it. These works also reveal the value and complex nature of natural resources, creating a space for environmental narratives. These works then represent metaphorical symbols that define the system as a whole, involving images of migration, transformation, appropriation and loss.
The “Craving for Southern Light” exhibition is a summary of Otobong Nkanga’s artistic practice, but also a showcase for his perceptions and moments in life. It is made up of a series of drawings and a large tapestry that define a poetic and political iconography that has always guided the artist, highlighting his ability to translate the fictional from evocative images of memories of bodies, spaces and interconnected actions.
The installation, specially conceived for the IVAM art space, was dedicated to the contemporary artist’s travel and research relationships and experiences within the museum and the city. This accumulation of stories and discoveries gives shape to an unstable artistic landscape of fragile, abstract forms. From precariously shaped clay creations evoking the vulnerability of ecological relationships, to carpets questioning the comfort of protective natural fibers, the tangle of ropes winding through the art space referencing stories in motion, to sculptures recalling the restoration of ecosystems, Otobong Nkanga creates a truly metaphorical and emotional space navigating between light and darkness.
These works feature moving memories of work, ownership and belonging, as well as scenes of conflict, domesticity and family. In the exhibition space, the artist’s symbolic drawings have been wired with an immersive color palette that serves as the basis for imagining new settings. Otobong Nkanga‘s artistic presentation “Craving for Southern Light” at IVAM will be accompanied by a catalog offering a detailed overview of his incredible performances. This will be the first major publication of the contemporary Nigerian artist’s work in Spanish. It will feature essays by curator Nuria Enguita, texts by Pelin Tan and Clémentine Deliss, and a comprehensive overview of the pieces on show.