The art of Otobong Nkanga (Kano, Nigeria, 1974; lives and works in Antwerp, Belgium) deals with urgent issues tied to the ecological crisis, the exploitation of resources, and sustainability.
Her empathetic relationship with the earth and the environment, and her interest in the ways in which we live, cultivate, care, or we consume and devastate, is linked to the different contexts she experienced and the places in which she lived, or that she encountered. In her works, historical traces, along with her own memories, material evidence and bodily perception, give shape to a personal vision designed as an original cosmogony, mapping out an intricate framework of relationships and connections. Rather than dwell on what separates and divides, Nkanga prefers to seek out and highlight what brings us together as human beings, connecting us not just with one another, but also with the planet on which we live.
Conceived for the Castello di Rivoli, the exhibition Of Cords Curling around Mountains is also inspired by the Museum's surroundings, thinking about mountains, valleys and plants, as well as the human presence that populates the area. Working as a site-specific installation, the exhibition stems from two carpets placed on the floor. Designed by the artist, they recall micro-landscapes and feature multifaceted profiles, alluding to the shapes of minerals, such as quartz and malachite, whose beneficial properties have been known for ages. Shedding the hardness of stone into the softness of wool, each carpet acts as a hub of energy, and grows into the exhibition space through lengthy, hand-crafted cords. Like thick braids of human hair, or hefty ropes for high-altitude climbs, these cords connect a series of sculpted objects, in metal, clay, beech wood and glass, carved according to geometric or rounded forms and seductive organic shapes. As further catalysts of energy, some of these objects produce sounds or serve as vessels for odorous liquids and organic materials coming from the territory, hinting to transformation, care and nourishment. On the walls painted in earth tones, Nkanga wrote poetic verses conceived during the months of preparation for the project, including the one mentioned in the title of the exhibition. Making her creative process visible, the artist also composed new texts directly on the walls.
Calling upon the five senses, Of Cords Curling around Mountains aims to offer visitors a calm place, to reduce stress and increase awareness. Expanding on the concept that art can heal, the exhibition unfolds as a path that embraces different forms of knowledge and experience, without separating rational, emotional and embodied approaches.
The exhibition is drafted by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev and Marcella Beccaria and is made possible thanks to the contribution of the Regione Piemonte
The project is the winner of the public announcement PAC2020 - Piano per L’Arte Contemporanea, promoted by the Directorate-General for Contemporary Creativity of the Italian Ministry of Culture
The exhibition is made in collaboration with Villa Arson Nice
More information here
Castello di Rivoli
Piazzale Mafalda di Savoia
10098 Rivoli TO, Italie