Sharjah Art Foundation adds new permanent installation to its collection

The work by Otobong Nkanga was originally created for the Sharjah Biennial 14, which took place last year

Sharjah Art Foundation has acquired the work Aging Ruins Dreaming Only to Recall the Hard Chisel from the Past by Otobong Nkanga with Emeka Ogboh, making it the foundation's second permanent installation after Random International's Rain Room Sharjah.

Located in the courtyard of Bait Al Aboudi within the foundation’s Al Mureijah Art Spaces, the work features a speaking tree that bemoans its addiction to saltwater. The earth also speaks of thirst, and they ask schoolchildren to sing them a rain song, to which, a shower of voices ring out. All this is made possible with the use of speakers, and the work is accompanied by several other multimedia interventions, including screens that flash poetic texts and cratered mounds filled with copper-coloured water.

Nakanga originally created this dying garden for last year’s Sharjah Biennial 14, which ran from March to June. The work continually responds to Sharjah’s climate, and explores ideas of the human relationship to land and ecology.

In a statement, Hoor Al Qasimi, Director of Sharjah Art Foundation, said, “It’s … rewarding to see the work interact with the natural environment … Revitalising the heritage buildings and architecture through activations is one of our central missions, and this ambitious project is a touchstone for our permanent collection.”

The work was brought to the biennial through Omar Kholeif, who was appointed the foundation’s Director of Collections and senior curator last year.

Nigeria-born Nkanga, who lives in Antwerp, produces work across various mediums, including installation, performance, sculpture and drawing. She has been awarded several prizes throughout her career, including the Lise Wilhelmsen Prize and a special mention at the 58th Venice Biennale.

Her work Aging Ruins Dreaming Only to Recall the Hard Chisel from the Past is one of a series of permanent works that will be installed across Sharjah. The rest of the foundation's growing collection – which currently numbers over 1,000 – will soon be housed in Jurainah Art Space, a new 13,000-square-metre building that is currently being constructed.