Internationally renowned Nigerian-Belgian artist Otobong Nkanga has been awarded the 2025 Nasher Prize by the Nasher Sculpture Center of Dallas. (Courtesy Otobong Nkanga and Sharjah Art Foundation)
Otobong Nkanga's "Unearthed - Sunlight," 2021. This installation appeared in Nkanga's solo exhibition "Unearthed" (2022) at Kunsthaus Bregenz, an art museum located in Bregenz, Austria. (Photo by Markus Tretter. Courtesy Nasher Sculpture Center)
Otobong Nkanga's "Veins Aligned," 2019. This installation appeared at the 2019 Venice Biennale. (Photo by Andrea Avezzu. Courtesy Nasher Sculpture Center)
Otobong Nkanga's "Double Plot," 2018, and "Alignment," 2022. This installation appeared at the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo, Netherlands. (Photo by Marjon Gemmeke. Courtesy Nasher Sculpture Center)
Otobong Nkanga's "In Pursuit of Bling," 2014. This installation appeared in the 2018 MCA Chicago exhibit "Otobong Nkanga: To Dig A Hole That Collapses Again." (Courtesy MCA Chicago and the Nasher Sculpture Center)
Otobong Nkanga's installation "Contained Measures of Shifting States," 2012. This installation appeared at Tate Modern in 2012. (Courtesy Tate Modern and Nasher Sculpture Center)
Artist Otobong Nkanga sits within her Musea Brugge installation. (Courtesy Musea Brugge)
Artist Otobong Nkanga's work has appeared at the Sharjah Biennial three times. Artists Otobong Nkanga and Emeka Ogboh were awarded the Sharjah Biennial 14 Prize for this multi-channel sound installation, poetry and light installation work, featured during the Sharjah Biennial 2019. (Photo by Haupt and Binder. Courtesy Sharjah Art Foundation)
This book, "Otobong Nkanga: Underneath the Shade We Lay Grounded," is a monograph published in 2022 by Cannibal Publishing. Book authors include Michel Dewilde, Kristel Van Audenaeren, and Koyo Kouoh.
Frequent Otobong Nkanga collaborator Omar Kholeif, director of collections and senior curator at Sharjah Art Foundation, authored this book "Otobong Nkanga: To Dig a Hole That Collapses Again," which also includes an in-depth essay written by scholar and writer Teju Cole. Published in 2018 by Prestel, the book also features writings and artworks created by artist Otobong Nkanga.
Otobong Nkanga's "The Weight of Scars," 2015, which appeared in the exhibition "To Dig a Hole That Collapses Again" at MCA Chicago in 2018. (Photo by Nathan Keay. Courtesy MCA Chicago)
Otobong Nkanga's "Anamnesis," 2015. Installation view of "Oceans, Global Trade and Migration," Nkanga's exhibition at Deichtorhallen in Hamburg, Germany in 2015. (Courtesy Nasher Sculpture Center)
Otobong Nkanga's "Solid Maneuvers," 2015. (Photo by Helena Schlichting. Courtesy Nasher Sculpture Center)
Otobong Nkanga's "Wetin You Go Do?," 2015. Installation view of "La vie modern" (2015) at the Musée d’artcontemporain, Lyon, France. (Photo by Blaise Adilon. Courtesy Nasher Sculpture Center)
Otobong Nkanga's "From Where I Stand," 2015-2019. This installation appeared in the exhibit "From Where I Stand" at the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art in 2020. (Photo by Jason Hynes. Courtesy Nasher Sculpture Center)
Honoring the artist’s expansive vision and brilliant artistry, Dallas’s Nasher Sculpture Center has awarded Otobong Nkanga with its 2025 Nasher Prize.
By winning this prestigious sculpture recognition, Nkanga will receive $100,000 and a Renzo Piano-designed award in April 2025. Her work will also be featured in an original monograph and exhibition at the Nasher Sculpture Center. As a Nasher Prize Laureate, Nkanga joins a distinguished list that includes Theaster Gates, Nairy Baghramian, and Senga Nengudi, the 2023 winner. (As the Nasher now awards the prize biennially rather than annually, there is no winner for 2024.)
Nkanga undoubtedly embodies the qualities of a Renaissance woman, as an internationally renowned polymath with a challenging, multifaceted oeuvre. Although most notable for sculptures and performance art, her multidisciplinary practice also includes photography, paintings, installations, poetry, and music.
Born in Kano, Nigeria, the artist spent her formative years in Lagos, Nigeria, and Paris, France. She currently resides in Antwerp, Belgium. Nkanga studied at Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife, Nigeria and École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. She completed a Masters in Performing Arts at DasArts in Amsterdam in 2008.
Nkanga envisions a world where multisensory experiences engage and enlighten viewers. Her practice values the Earth and its natural resources, raw materials, and biodiversity. She researches how land, the environment, people, and cultures are interconnected, often addressing themes of climate change. Her deep interest in the environment is reflected in the materials she uses: minerals, plants, kola nuts, salt, oils, stones, sand, water, and metals.
“Otobong Nkanga maps urgent global problems, but does so in subtle, enigmatic, and probing ways,” says Nasher Prize juror Briony Fer. “She works with materials that draw on many different aspects of the world’s resources. The complex histories of those materials are embedded in her works. The intense and productive way in which she presents formal and material questions is what marks her huge contribution to sculpture right now.”
Shown on an international scale for years, Nkanga has an impressive list of major accomplishments. Her work appeared at the 2019 and 2022 Venice Biennale, Tate Modern, Documenta 14, the Sharjah Biennial, and the Castello di Rivoli. Included among her exhibits in the United States are shows at Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and “Black Melancholia” at the Hessel Museum of Art at Bard College. Her work has also appeared at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. She delivered a lecture to the Harvard Graduate School of Design in 2018. For Louis Vuitton’s Travel Book collection, Nkanga created Travel Book Shanghai in 2021, which offers her unique perspective on Shanghai, China through illustrations.
Jeremy Strick, director of the Nasher Center since 2009, praises the depth and complexity of Nkanga’s work.
“The work of Otobong Nkanga makes manifest the myriad connections — historical, sociological, economic, cultural, and spiritual — that we have to the materials that comprise our lives,” said Strick.
In an interview for The White Review, Nkanga expressed the importance of connectivity between humans and the Earth.
“Everything we have, own or possess derives from the Earth, even though it might have been transformed by artificial means,” said Nkanga. “We are a species that is constantly adapting to circumstances and the places in which we live. But at the same time, we cannot disassociate ourselves from nature.”