Social Consequences II: The Overload - Projectiles - Piercing Pressure - Hostage - Wastescape - The Overflow

Otobong Nkanga


Drawing, § x (29 x 42 cm).
Materials: stickers, acrylic on paper

Collection: Collection Wim van Dongen.

Some frequently recurring elements in Nkanga's drawings refer to landscapes and maps, needles, colour samples and bodies or body parts turning into something else. In  her drawings, Nkanga examines or describes elements that cannot be captured in words. Quite often, the drawings also serve as a preliminary study, or they are a by-product of her performances.

The needles that seem to pierce many of the drawings refer to the need of people to subdue the earth to their will. In the past, emissaries from western empires travelled around the world and planted flags everywhere. They appropriated territories without any consultation with the indigenous population; a needle on a world map indicated their property.

Furthermore, the needles refer to Nkanga's desire to scrutinise the world and to investigate all mysteries as thoroughly as possible. The works often find themselves on the borderline between colonial history and Nkanga's own version of history. Yet her work is not overloaded by this difficult history, nor does it avoid it.

When examining the Earth (at various levels: through geology, mineralogy, cartography, economy etc.), humans are often overlooked. Layers are analysed, minerals removed, profits calculated, holes drilled, raw materials shipped, forests cut down – and huge scars left. These procedures are planned and studied in advance, but the impact on people is often seen as incidental or unimportant. The one who has placed a needle is the owner of the land and may do with it as he pleases. There is no regard for the broader application of the land either, or for the importance it may have for the customs, rituals and experiences of the inhabitants. Still, value is not only related to monetary transactions, it may also be linked to culture or knowledge. The economical, socio-cultural and political is interconnected and it are these connections that Nkanga wants to expose.

The colour samples, which are often applied to the drawing, show the starting point of the work. From this patchwork of colours, the drawing is put in motion.

Events View all

Actors View all

Linked Items View all