For her first major North American museum survey, Nigerian-born artist Otobong Nkanga is fascinated by what she calls “shine.” For Nkanga, shine refers to not only the glimmering surface qualities of natural resources like rare minerals, but also the desire to be seduced by exotic consumer objects.
Indeed, one of her central concerns is the connection between late capitalism and the intense mining of the world’s natural resources. Nkanga’s performance, sculpture, drawing, painting, textiles, photography, and installation works explore the relationship of movement and memory to postcolonial histories.
In work on paper and textiles, the artist creates landscapes and figures with clean, hard-edged lines that address the social and ecological impacts of Nigeria’s oil business. Her works also reference West African cultural artifacts and resources, which Nkanga locates within the context of Nigeria’s economy, raising questions about their cultural value and use.