Otobong Nkanga was recently announced as the first winner of the prestigious Lise Wilhelmsen Art Award. The Lise Wilhelmsen Art Award Programme is a new biennial art programme and prize developed in partnership with the Lise and Arne Wilhelmsen family and the Henie Onstad Kunstsenter. With a prize amount of $100,000, the award and programme for international mid-career sculptors and painters is the largest of its kind in Norway. The award announcement also includes an exhibition at the Henie Onstad Kunstsenter in 2020, and the museum will acquire a work by the artist.
The Nigerian-born, Antwerp-based artist is known for her complex and timely studies of soil and earth and how these materials reveal historical and political structures. We visited Otobong Nkanga in her studio space at Gropius Bau in Berlin to talk about the relationship between the body and the landscape, as well as the importance of generosity and community to her practice.
Nkanga is currently the Artist-in-Residence at Gropius Bau, undertaking her exploration of natural resources and economic and ecological processes as part of their ongoing ‘In House’ residency programme. During 2019, Nkanga has a studio space in the ground floor gallery of Gropius Bau, where she has been continuing her project ‘Carved to Flow,’ which she began as part of documenta 14. In Berlin, she has initiated the third phase of the project, entitled ‘Germination,’ which serves as a platforum for research, discussion and workshops.