Picture: left to right - Jean, Filomina, Me, Otobong, Lloyd and Bill
Artes Mundi 8
National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, Wales
My art students and I had the pleasure of meeting the Artes Mundi 2019 nominee earlier today, Otobong Nkanga. She took the time to explain her beautiful, intriguing, delicate amazing work. Of a levitating rock, a massive tapestry with Milkyway space dust explosions, images of tear gas combustion and riot control water jets, a magical tree, map of the world with all the borders and a journey of time. Full of textures and deep meaning of the macrocosm and microcosm of human interactions and collisions, the drama of the universe and the drama of the human in equal measure.
I was overwhelmed by her charisma and wealth of knowledge, skill, and exuberance of this wonderful woman. I feel so honoured and humbled. My students listened intently and ask questions about her work Otobong was eloquent and engaging explaining in detail the methods she used, expressing the limited colour palette of 8 threads that could be transformed into over 2 million different varieties of shades, tones and textured weaves with the use of modern loom digital technology.
Otobong accounted on the history of tapestry in Nigeria and the expression of power in the weave. Of the connections to the Silk Road, the threads of silk woven into the power stories of families and the hierarchal meaning behind the quality and feeling of the materials used. Of modern materials and the transformation this brings for all to have intricate patterns.
Otobong has a wealth of knowledge from the ancient crafts to transcendent concepts in the electromagnetic physic phenomena finding a balance between - now, then and the future.
Artes Mundi 8 has outdone it's self this year. I was suprised and enthralled by all of the work and Otobong Nkanga was most certainly well deserving to win, which I thought she had. We all congratulated her, it may have been a misunderstanding but either way to be exhibited and nominated would still be great I'm sure, but I wish she had won. It truly was my favourite, she had me at levitating rock... anyone who knows me, knows I love things that float on a magnetic field, merging art and science in all the ways I love, she's an inspiration. Just incredible.
Apichatpong Weerasethakul was the winner with a simple, atmospheric video work. As Bill said, 'it was very calming'.
The names of all the nominees are: Anna Boghiguian (Canada/Egypt), Bouchra Khalili (Morocco/France), Otobong Nkanga (Nigeria/Belgium), Trevor Paglen (USA), Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Thailand). Read more about all of them herehttp://www.artesmundi.org/exhibitions-prizes/artes-mundi-8
Artes Mundi 8 is on till May is well worth seeing.
My students and I also saw the Kyffin Williams exhibition which we enjoyed which I will discuss more another time for now here are some pics from our visit today.
Penelope Rose Cowley x