Inspired by

Audio Recordings: Oil and Spirit

Inspired by the work of Ima-Abasi Okon, learn more about palm oil and alcohol’s histories and uses

An image of two lead crystal lamps with a mixture of palm oil and cognac applied to the inside. They cast patterns of light onto a ceiling

Photo: Seraphina Neville. © Ima-Abasi Okon. Courtesy the artist

In Ima-Abasi Okon's 2021 display at Tate Britain, the artist has filled pairs of hand-crafted glass lights with palm oil and Courvoisier VS cognac. They are installed into a modular ceiling that is hung underneath the original. Shining through the palm oil and cognac, they spread a golden glow through the space.

An empty gallery room with a false ceiling inserted two thirds up the walls and covering half of the gallery space

Photo: Seraphina Neville. © Ima-Abasi Okon. Courtesy the artist

What do palm oil and cognac tell us about global economies? How do palm oil and cognac’s biological properties co-mingle?

Press play and listen to medicinal herbalists Katja Swift and Ryn Midura explore the properties and medicinal uses of Palm Oil and Cognacs.

Katja Swift & Ryn Midura are a wife-and-husband team of herbalists and the founders of the CommonWealth Center for Holistic Herbalism. They co-wrote the book Herbal Medicine for Beginners and produce the Holistic Herbalism Podcast together. From their home in the New England forests, they work to make training in practical and clinical herbalism more accessible, affordable, and enjoyable for people all over the world.

In this second recording, artist Otobong Nkanga discusses the economic and social histories of palm oil and cognac, two materials that Okon uses in her work.

These audio responses are part of a series of responses to Ima-Abasi Okon’s work developed by writer and curator Taylor Le Melle. Titled Stretching opacity shine, physicality, Palm Oil Cognac Rhythm, these commissions explore Ima-Abasi Okon’s work through their materiality.

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