Above: Otobong Nkanga, Carved to Flow – The Hand, 2017. Detail of installation view Carved to Flow – The Laboratory, Athens. Documenta 14. Chalk wall drawing and adobe sculpture, 470 x 400 cm. Photo: Wim van Dongen.
What is RAW Académie?
RAW Académie is an experimental residential programme for the research and study of artistic and curatorial practice and thought. The programme takes place over seven weeks in Dakar. It is dedicated to a dynamic reflection on artistic research, curatorial practice and critical writing. The Académie is held during two distinct sessions per year; October–December and April–June. Each session is directed by a lead faculty who has displayed an off-the-beaten-track practice in regard to art, curating and art criticism. Session 5 will be led by Nigerian artist Otobong Nkanga. It will take place from October 29 to December 14, 2018.
Session 5: Germination
Before planting a seed in the ground, multiple experiments can be conducted to know about the quality and age of the plant (which will grow out of that). Agricultural scientists tend to be very cautious while experimenting to avoid any error in the result. Each part of the experiment is often completed with proper care, for example, they use distilled water to clean the glassware. That’s why laboratory management tends to buy distilled water and other chemicals in large quantities for the smooth conduct of the experiment. After studying all the qualities of the seed, it may be ready to go beneath the soil. Planting a seed in the right soil is not enough to make it sprout. The material and structural conditions around the seed, that may have left it in a state of dormancy, must be taken into consideration in order to provide fertile ground for thinking about ways in which we work, live and create together. Each element such as the soil, rain, heat and humidity are equally necessary and vital for the process of germination to take place.
Otobong Nkanga’s multi-stage project Carved To Flow is a long-term research and practice oriented platform that uses material investigation and experimentation to produce new systems of support across economy, sociality and art. The third phase-Germination-comes to Dakar, Senegal to build a new pillar of creative sustenance for a project that is envisaged as a structure that can have real impact on lived reality, using art as a device to reflect on what it means to sculpt or carve possibilities within societies and create collective responses within spaces of crisis.
It is becoming ever more urgent to understand how entangled our existence is to the very elements we exploit, use or waste. How can we create structures for care and repair? How can we carve or sculpt against the grain to create a flow? How can we work in coherence with the land and mineral body that holds us all? We can no longer ignore the particles we breath into our lungs, speckled sometimes with particles of arsenic but at other times with the pollen of a jasmine flower.
Germination functions as a laboratory space between the imagined and lived experiences which allows for the possibilities to explore ideas around ecology, architecture and sustainability. Fellows and invited faculty will work with practitioners in Senegal to connect and enrich structures that run beyond the lines of usual curatorial norms but that teach us how to be in space and resonate beyond, to resist stalemate and hibernation by seeking symbiosis with the localities we live in.
About Otobong Nkanga
Otobong Nkanga (NG/BE) was born in 1974 in Kano, Nigeria. In 1992 she began her art studies at the Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife, Nigeria, and later continued from 1995-2001 in Paris at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts. She was an artist-in-residence at the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, Amsterdam from 2002-2004. In 2008 she obtained her Masters in the Performing Arts at Dasarts, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. In 2013-2014, she was a guest of the DAAD Berliner Künstlerprogramm – Artists-in-Berlin Program. A part of Carved to Flow – Germination (Phase 3) has emerged from research carried out within the BAK Fellowship Program. Otobong Nkanga is a 2017/2018 Fellow at BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht.
Nkanga has had solo exhibitions at Tate Modern, London (2017); Kunsthal Aarhus, Aarhus (2017); Nottingham Contemporary (2016); Berkeley Art Museum, BAMPFA, California (2016); M HKA in Antwerp (2015); Portikus in Frankfurt (2015). In 2016, she also had major international projects in Shanghai and Beirut (Landversation). She has exhibited in several international exhibitions, including Documenta14 in Athens and Kassel (2017); 20th Biennale of Sydney (2016); 13th Biennale de Lyon (2015); 31st São Paulo Biennial (2014); the 8th Berlin Biennale (2014) and the Sharjah Biennial 11 (2013). She was the winner of the Yanghyun Prize in 2015 and the Belgian Art Prize in 2017.
About RAW Material Company
RAW Material Company is a centre for art, knowledge and society. It is an initiative involved with curatorial practice, artistic education, residencies, knowledge production, and archiving of theory and criticism on art. It works to foster appreciation and growth of artistic and intellectual creativity in Africa. The programme is trans-disciplinary and is equally informed by literature, film, architecture, politics, fashion, cuisine and diaspora.
RAW Académie is a tuition free experimental study programme. Ideal fellows are newly graduates from art schools, curatorial programmes and various fields of the humanities. The application process is online only. A maximum of 10 fellows are selected for each session. The application process for Session 5 opens on May 17, 2018 and closes on 1 July 2018. Only the first 75 applications will be considered for review. The selection committee for Session 5 includes Otobong Nkanga, Director Session 5 RAW Académie, Koyo Kouoh, Artistic Director RAW Material Company, and Eva Barois De Caevel, Assistant Curator & Académie Coordinator RAW Material Company. Only short listed applicants will be notified and invited for online interview.