2 Min Lesezeit
Kapwani Kiwanga, pink-blue, 2017, Baker-Miller pink, white paint, white and blue fluorescent tubes, dimensions variable, installation view, A wall is just a wall, The Power Plant, Toronto, Canada, 2017, Courtesy the artist and Goodman Gallery, Cape Town, Johannesburg, London / Galerie Poggi, Paris / Galerie Tanja Wagner, Berlin, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2023, Photo: Tony Hafkenscheid
Kapwani Kiwanga
Courtesy the artist and Galerie Poggi, Paris
Photo: Bertille Chéret

Delicate ornamental plants harbour toxic power, colours unfold manipulative effects, light is unmasked as a political instrument. Kapwani Kiwanga, according to the announcement of her exhibition at the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, is looking for an artistic vocabulary to view existing structures and power relations from new angles. Her works initially appeal to the senses of the viewer; only at second glance do they reveal their historical-political dimensions. Glass, two-way mirrors, shading nets, stone, sand, sisal, plants, but also light and colour are not value-neutral materials for Kiwanga, but rather materials that are significant in terms of content, by means of which she translates social, ecological, geological, historical and diasporic themes into strong artistic statements. According to the museum, she stages “material stories in which the material is ambassador, metaphor, bearer of experience and socio-political instrument at the same time”. In this way, she shakes the foundations of our cultural socialisation and refines “our sense of hidden social mechanisms, structural injustices and global and everyday asymmetries of power”.

Under the title “The Length of the Horizon”, the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg is showing the first comprehensive “mid-career retrospective” of the Canadian-French artist, who will occupy the Canadian Pavilion at the Venice Art Biennale in 2024, from 16 September to 7 January 2024. On view are works from Kiwanga’s beginnings to the present day, such as the installation “Terrarium” (2022), the sixteen-metre-long coloured light tunnel “pink-blue” (2017) and the sculptural series “Glow” (2019 ongoing). Kapwani Kiwanga, who studied anthropology and comparative religion, works with so-called exit strategies in her works: “I don’t try to reproduce what is known. I also try to see how we can go beyond what is known. This requires very simple things like a different point of view or even a new point of view. […] These ‘exit strategies’ are very personal, but they can also be experienced collectively,” the artist sums up.

„I’m not trying to restate what one knows. I’m also trying to see what ways to get past what we know. To do that requires very simple things like just looking at it differently, or just even looking at it for the first time. […] These ‘exit strategies’ are very personal but they can be collectively experienced as well”,

Kapwani Kiwanga’s installations, paintings, works on paper, photographs and video works, according to Uta Ruhkamp, the exhibition’s curator, “captivate with their aesthetics, formal clarity and reduction.” Her sensitive choice of materials and colours, Ruhkamp continues, are always grounded in deeper levels of meaning, “which charge her works historically and socio-politically and break up the visual pleasure in terms of content”. In this way, Kapwani Kiwanga “poetically measures and expands our social horizons”.

The exhibition is accompanied by a comprehensive publication with installation views, archive materials, a conversation between Cecilia Alemani and Kapwani Kiwanga, and essays by Julie Pellegrin and Uta Ruhkamp. Available for 39 euros in the museum shop.


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