This is another bumper exhibition from Tate St Ives showcasing a female international artist; this time from Nigeria via Belgium. It is to the Tate’s credit that they keep curating wonderful and crucial shows, giving artists a vibrant space for their voice.
It is difficult to describe the breadth and complexity of Otobong Nkanga’s work as it incorporates sculpture, painting, drawing, print, photography, tapestry, video and performance. This not an exhibition of paintings on the wall, there are layers upon layers of imagery, collage upon drawing photographic découpage upon video installation. There were moments when I literally stuck my nose to the gallery wall to discover if a work was two or three dimensional. This is genuine 21st Century art, where every form and medium is as legitimate as another; there is no hierarchy of materials in art.
The artworks themselves represent our millennial concerns of industrialisation, environmental catastrophe and the exploitation of resources, both material and human. We are thrown into the path of those historical, twin juggernauts of the industrial revolution and colonialism, with its ramifications for our present and the future. It is essentially the developments from the 19th Century onwards which have landed us in the predicament we find ourselves in today.
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