Nnenna Okore: Torn Apart
April 28 – June 4, 2011
David Krut Projects is delighted to present Nigerian sculptor, Nnenna Okore’s solo exhibition Torn Apart. Okore pursues an ethic of recycling and transformation, working with materials gathered from the streets of Chicago, where she currently lives. Her practice springs from the socially useful traditions of African art making where objects, whatever their function, were skillfully created and decorated and nearly every work of art had a societal purpose. By salvaging and hoarding waste materials like newsprint, Okore raises questions of consumption and waste, and pays homage to her country’s foragers and peddlers. She explores an aesthetic of accumulation, picking out materials that are closely related and serviceable, favoring the gutsy textures of jute, burlap, clay and handmade paper pulps. Okore’s creative practices are hands-on, repetitive, and laborious. The baking, braiding, rolling, and folding motions built into her sculptures register the daily motions of rural life observed in economically impoverished Nigeria.
Okore’s sculptures impress through their ergonomic discipline and attention to order, distinguishing her from the purposely squalid and trashy techniques of so-called “scatter art”. Her organicism chafes against the glib corporate crust and the autotelic thrust of much contemporary art while her resourcefulness indicates a dilemma with our disposable-Kleenex culture. The most infamous example of European found-object art, perhaps, came with the shock of Meret Oppenheim’s fur-lined teacup. While her Swiss predecessor jolted the very tissue of her subject to a surreal effect, Okore rather tears apart and reworks her materials within their own genetics, producing curiously self-referential sculptures that cast back onto their artistic DNA.
Okore is an Assistant Professor and Chair of the Art Department at North Park University, Chicago, IL. She participated in the 29th Sao Paulo Biennial, Brazil and is presently exhibiting in Environment and Object in Recent African Art at the Tang Museum, NY.
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