May 4, 2016 - University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) - Otobong Nkanga / MATRIX 260
May 4, 2016

University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA)

Otobong Nkanga, From Where I Stand: Glimmer, 2015. Performance at M HKA, Antwerp. Photo: Christine Clinckx.

Otobong Nkanga / MATRIX 260
May 11–14, 2016

University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA)
2120 Oxford Street
Berkeley, CA 94720
USA

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The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) is pleased to present two mixed-media performative works by the Nigerian-born, Antwerp-based artist Otobong Nkanga as part of MATRIX 260. Nkanga works with a variety of media, including drawing, photography, installation, and performance. She observes social and topographical changes in her environment, the complexities that are embedded within these experiences, and how natural resources and their potential values are subjected to regional and cultural scrutiny. Nkanga’s works for MATRIX 260 use self-reflection and storytelling to further explore the material, natural, and sociopolitical history of Nigeria and beyond. Nkanga will present From Where I Stand (2015) at BAMPFA on May 11 and Contained Measures of a Kolanut (2012) at the Tropical House in the University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley on May 14. MATRIX 260 is her first solo presentation in a US institution.

From Where I Stand is an investigation into the colonial history of the mineral rush of the 19th and early 20th centuries in parts of Africa, when European companies extracted minerals, such as mica, copper, and malachite, from resource-rich areas, leaving them in a state of permanent ruin. In May 2015, Nkanga visited Tsumeb, Namibia, a German colonial town founded in 1905, to find out what remained after extensive mining of a massive natural hill of green, oxidized copper ore. Her discoveries led Nkanga to develop several works, including From Where I Stand, in which a rug resembling the shape of a mineral becomes a platform for a series of performances. Working with several students from various Bay Area art schools, for MATRIX, Nkanga will debut a newly commissioned performance as part of this series. “The performances really touch upon what humanity is and what we are becoming in relation to the past, present, and a possible future,” comments Nkanga. “There isn't always a fixed way or topic with regard to the performance, but I am interested in layering thoughts, inserting researched materials, experiencing the moment, evoking the past, looking for ways of repair for the future, changing perceptions, sharing experiences, and learning while doing.”

Contained Measures of a Kolanut, which will take place at the UC Botanical Garden, presents an array of tables with diagrams, maps, and images, among other things, that explore the rituals and cultural histories associated with the kolanut. A bitter nut indigenous to West African rainforests, the kolanut is also a natural source of caffeine. Over the course of four hours Nkanga will sit at one of the tables and ask participants to sit with her. Surrounded by various pictures and materials, she will engage them in discussion and invite them to partake in her variation of a kolanut ceremony. “I look at the mythologies that surround the plant, the aspects that are linked to things we consume, the chemicals found in the plant, its stories of displacement,” Nkanga says. “Contained measures allows for all these research materials, the emotions, and the body to find their place within the installation.”

Public programs
From Where I Stand

Wednesday, May 11, 7:30pm
A newly commissioned mixed-media performance work by Otobong Nkanga.
BAMPFA: 2155 Center St., Berkeley
Included with admission

Contained Measures of a Kolanut
Saturday, May 14, 1–5pm
The second of two mixed-media performance works that takes place at the Tropical house of the UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley.
Tropical House, University of California, Botanical Gardens at Berkeley: 200 Centennial Dr., Berkeley
Admission included with UC Botanical Garden and/or BAMPFA admission; reciprocal entry

Support
Otobong Nkanga / MATRIX 260
 is organized by Apsara DiQuinzio, curator of modern and contemporary art and Phyllis C. Wattis MATRIX Curator, and Philippe Pirotte, BAMPFA adjunct curator. The MATRIX program is made possible by a generous endowment gift from Phyllis C. Wattis and the continued support of the BAMPFA Trustees.

Press contact: 
Peter Cavagnaro, pcavagnaro [​at​] berkeley.edu

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