Otobong Nkanga Named 2025 Nasher Prize Laureate; Wins $100K Award

by Jessica Fuentes October 12, 2023

The Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas has named Otobong Nkanga as the winner of the 2025 Nasher Prize, in recognition of her outstanding contributions to sculpture.

A black and white headshot of artist Otobong Nkanga.

Otobong Nkanga

Ms. Nkanga is the first Nasher Prize Laureate to receive the award since the museum shifted it to a biennial format. Previous winners include Senga Nengudi (2023), Nairy Baghramian (2022), Michael Rakowitz (2020-21), Isa Genzken (2019), Theaster Gates (2018), Pierre Huyghe (2017) and Doris Salcedo (2016). The change to a biennial timeline provides the awardee a longer duration of time to prepare works for an exhibition at the Nasher. Ms. Nkanga will receive the award in Dallas on April 5, 2025 in conjunction with the debut of her exhibition and the publishing of a monograph of her work. 

In a press release, Jeremy Strick, Director of the Nasher, stated, “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. Delving deeply into the variegated meanings these materials take on, Nkanga’s work makes clear the essential place of sculpture in contemporary life.”

An installation image of works by Otobong Nkanga.

Otobong Nkanga, “Taste of a Stone,” 2010/20, Marble pebbles, Hedera Helix, Sempervivum arachnoideum, Sedum acre, Sedum rupestre, Linaria alpina, Tillandsia multiflora, Tillandsia straminea, Tillandsia aeranthos clump, reindeer moss, boulders, gneiss, granite, Iceland lichen, inkjet prints on Galala limestone slabs. “Kolanut Tales–Dismembered,” 2016, woven textile (yarns: polyester, organic cotton, linen, acryl), 82 4/5 x 68 4/5 inches. Installation view of “Otobong Nkanga: There’s No Such Thing as Solid Ground at Gropius Bau,” 2020. Photo: Luca Girardini.

Ms. Nkanga is a Nigerian/Belgian artist who is known for her powerful installations and performances. For two decades, her work has addressed the relationships between people, the land, and its resources, exploring issues such as consumption, connectivity, and care. Ms. Nkanga’s work often incorporates research related to the raw materials of a specific place, such as minerals, spices, nuts, metals, oils, plants, and stones. Additionally, her work often touches upon ideas of movement, migration, and belonging. 

An installation image of a work by Otobong Nkanga.

Otobong Nkanga, “Anamnesis,” 2015, plywood, gauze, coffee, tea, spices, cacao, raw tobacco, peat, 204 3/5 x 451 1/5 inches. Installation view of “Streamline, Ozeane, Welthandel and Migration. Oceans, Global Trade and Migration” at the Deichtorhallen, 2015

Nasher Prize juror and Professor at University College London Briony Fer remarked, “Otobong Nkanga maps urgent global problems but does so in subtle, enigmatic, and probing ways. She works with materials that draw on many different aspects of the world’s resources, and 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 out her huge contribution to sculpture right now.”

The 2025 Nasher Prize jury that selected Ms. Nkanga is comprised of Nairy Baghramian, artist; Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Director of Castello di Rivoli, Italy; Lynne Cooke, Senior Curator, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Briony Fer, Professor, History of Art, University College London; Hou Hanru, Artistic Director, MAXXI, Rome; Yuko Hasegawa, Director of the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa Japan; Rashid Johnson, artist; Pablo León de la Barra, Curator at Large, Latin America, Guggenheim Museum; and Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair, Arts Council England.

Learn more about Otobong Nkanga’s work via the Nasher’s website.

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