Otobong Nkanga’s first monograph, Luster and Lucre, charts an intensely productive period from 2013 to 2016, which includes exhibitions at the 8th Berlin Biennale; Portikus, Frankfurt am Main; KADIST, Paris; and M HKA, Antwerp. Its title encapsulates the complex concerns that underpin these shows: “luster,” the illustrious shining of materials; and “lucre,” profits and gains. With the mineral mica as her starting point, Nkanga’s research took her to archives in Berlin, Strasbourg, and Windhoek, and led her along a colonial railroad in Namibia to the historic Tsumeb mine. This rich research became works that probe the ambivalence of that which shines: poems, intricate drawings, modular sculptures that form systems of display, and performances that are both gestural and dialogical.
With a foreword by Städelschule director Philippe Pirotte, Luster and Lucre also contains the essays “The Refusal of Shine” by curator Natasha Ginwala and “Blacklight” by scholar Denise Ferreira da Silva, as well as “Intricate Connections,” an interview between Otobong Nkanga, Clare Molloy, and Fabian Schöneich. The volume also contains three exhibition-pamphlet inserts.