In the fall of 2023, the Kunstverein in Hamburg is presenting Germany’s first solo exhibition by Ima-Abasi Okon. Recipient of the Turner Prize Bursary 2020, the artist treats exhibition-making as an exercise in syntax. Adopting linguistic and grammatical structures within her installations, she employs sculpture, sound and video in ways that complicate a stable construction of knowledge and meaning.
Okon's work has strong references to the history of conceptual art and institutional critique, but imbues these references with a visceral affect that pushes her work far beyond cool minimalism.
Ima-Abasi Okon’s alternative grammar is built through an attentiveness to the symbolic life of objects and materials. She exploits the fact that symbols are interpreted through cultural context, and how these signals of affiliation have informed dominant judgments of taste. Okon’s work encourages us to look at language differently and to re-examine our personal attachments to the prevailing order of an exhausting colonial-capitalist system.
Because Okon treats exhibitions as a holistic system of value, taste and labour, for example having once designed her own artwork labels, viewers can find the artist’s intervening gestures inserted into the administrative aspects of displaying artworks that work to construct our experience inside a gallery’s architecture.
For The Kunstverein in Hamburg Ima-Abasi Okon will develop an installation for the site taking in to consideration the building's architecture, history, and placement.
The exhibition is kindly supported by Kulturstiftung des Bundes, Behörde für Kultur und Medien Hamburg, Hamburgische Kulturstiftung, CORA-Kunststiftung unter dem Dach der Hamburgischen Kulturstiftung, Henry Moore Foundation and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Germany.