Otobong Nkanga. Of Cords Curling around Mountains

September 25, 2021 – January 30, 2022

Drafted by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev and Marcella Beccaria

Castello Building, third floor


The exhibition 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 Direzione Generale Creatività Contemporanea del Ministero della Cultura

The exhibition is made in collaboration with Villa Arson

The public program of the exhibition, as part of the larger framework of Espressioni. The Proposition is supported by e-flux

Castello di Rivoli thanks Nicoletta Fiorucci and Ruben Levi, Friends Benefactors of the Museum, for their support

Castello di Rivoli thanks the galleries In Situ, Romainville; Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo, Brussels, New York and Lumen Travo, Amsterdam, to support the production of the catalogue

Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea presents the solo exhibition devoted to Otobong Nkanga (Kano, Nigeria, 1974), among the most important international contemporary artists of African origin who tackles urgent issues related to the ecological crisis and the environment, the exploitation of resources and sustainability, from a point of view that takes into account the history of colonialism with the consequent inequalities and repercussions on the social fabric.

In 2017 the artist participated in the exhibition The Emotion of COLORS in Art held at Castello di Rivoli and at GAM in Turin when in the Manica Lunga she exhibited the work Kolanut Tales: Slow Stain, 2012-2017, which subsequently became part of the Museum Collections thanks to the gift of the Sup-porting and Benefactor Friends of Castello di Rivoli.

Specially conceived for the galleries on the third floor of the Castello, the exhibition consists in a large site-specific project. Drawing an unprecedented landscape, the installation includes works-carpets whose irregular shape is inspired by the shape of minerals, such as quartz and malachite, whose healing properties have been known since ancient times. The carpets extend into the space through very long hand-woven cords which in turn connect multiple concave sculptural objects that suggest manipulation by visitors. Made of wood, glass and terracotta, they host additional organic materials or convey sounds, endowing the work a performative and sensually relational component. Therefore, the artist develops at floor level her exhibition that winds through five large galleries of the third floor of the Castello, intentionally rejecting the verticality of the museum walls to embrace the horizontality, associated with the notion of geography and travel understood as transit and connection between distant points. The installation brings into dialogue the different cultural traditions that are intertwined in the biography of the artist: born in Nigeria and raised in France, currently living in Antwerp.

While the presence of objects, including minerals such as malachite and other organic materials, refers to the amulets that in some African traditions are given on the occasion of the birth of a child, or to the herbs used for their healing properties since ancient times, the carpet is also linked to the historical skill of European Flemish weaving. During her studies in Paris, Nkanga was pupil of the artist Giuseppe Penone (Garessio, 1947): in her work, attentive to materials and their transformations, in fact, the heritage of Arte Povera is highlighted at the level of the most current international developments in contemporary art world.

The exhibition is part of a collaboration project with the Centre national d’art contemporain of Villa Arson, Nice, where the first retrospective dedicated to Otobong Nkanga in France is underway (until September 19, 2021). Curated by Eric Mangion, the Nice exhibition focuses on the artist’s main works to date.

On the occasion of this double exhibition, Castello di Rivoli and Villa Arson co-edit a new scholarly catalog which includes new texts and interviews by the curators, documentary images relating to the exhibitions in the two institutions, entries relating to the works and an end matter section dedicated to the artist’s exhibition history, from the beginning to the present.