Otobong Nkanga

“Shaping Memory is a photographic work that depicts a collaged landscape, made by using collected images from magazines that relate specifically to spaces captured in my memory of my childhood and homeland. Through this work I try to give form to the fragmented memories by using found images that trigger the notion of déjà vu. The images are then cut out and collaged together to recreate the new reality of what my memory recalls but which still manages to seize the sensation of the memorized landscape.

I take inspiration from my surroundings and the accounts of certain spaces and natural resources I encounter, which trigger questions that I do not have answers to. My artworks are a result of observations, investigations and sensations of material and spaces. The notions of memory, temporality and displacement of ideas and things have a crucial role in the way I look at objects, architecture and culture.”

The Nigerian-born multimedia artist Otobong Nkanga currently works in Amsterdam and Paris, where she explores questions relating to her native country. Nkanga is particularly interested in memory and how that relates to place. In Shaping Memory, she depicts a traditional Nigerian hut with a lush landscape behind it. The fact that the work has been cut out from its surroundings and decontextualized atop an anonymous hand commodifies the scene. The hut ceases to be a simple image of a place; it instead becomes something fragile, capable of being exploited. The fact that there are two versions of this image—one in color, one in black and white—strengthens that quality.