The Length of the Horizon
Archive-based, thematically highly topical, and future-oriented: This is how the impressive work of Kapwani Kiwanga (b. 1978) can be described. In the fall of 2023, the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg will present the first comprehensive mid-career retrospective of the Canadian French artist, who was recently awarded the Zurich Art Prize (2022) and the prestigious Prix Marcel Duchamp (2020), who will represent the Canadian Pavilion at the 60th Biennale di Venezia in 2024.
Kapwani Kiwanga is adept at seducing viewers aesthetically, while at the same time touching them in terms of content. For she uses the power of color, light, and material to tell history from a new perspective and to point to asymmetries of power. Delicate plants harbor toxic power and history, colors unfold manipulative effects, and light is exposed as a political instrument. The most striking feature of her work is the artistic translation of a well-founded theoretical basis, whereby her installations, paintings, works on paper, photographs, and video works captivate through formal clarity and reduction. In doing so, Kapwani Kiwanga spans an arc of reference from the local to the global, incorporates location factors, but also addresses colonialism, postcolonialism, gender, racism, slavery, faith, and spirituality. As a trained anthropologist and comparative religion scholar, she has the academic background for her interdisciplinary, social-analytical practice, in which she works with so-called exit strategies. She searches for a vocabulary that invites multi-perspective ways of looking at existing situations and hardened hegemonic structures in order to think about them differently in the future. Through this historical-sociopolitical dimension, which is only revealed at second glance, Kapwani Kiwanga breaks up the visual pleasure of her works in terms of content, doubling their effect and giving them a lasting impact.
Raised in Hamilton, Canada, Kiwanga studied anthropology and comparative religion in Montreal before participating in the “La Seine” program at the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts de Paris. The artist lives and works in Paris and is currently a fellow at the Harvard Ratcliffe Institute/Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a comprehensive, richly illustrated publication (German/English) with an extensive interview with the artist by Cecilia Alemani and texts by Julie Pellegrin and Uta Ruhkamp (ed.).
Dr. Uta Ruhkamp