Yinka Shonibare MBE (RA)

Present

The American Library

'The American Library' 2018 at Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art, July 14 - September 30

The American Library, 2018

Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art, July 14 - September 30

https://www.theamericanlibraryinstallation.com

 

The American Library by Yinka Shonibare MBE is a celebration of the diversity of the American population. It aims to be an instigator of discovery and debate. The thousands of books in this art installation are covered in the artist’s signature Dutch wax printed cotton textile. These fabrics were originally based on Indonesian batik textiles, made in the Netherlands and sold in West Africa. Since the 1960s this fabric has been celebrated as a symbol of African identity. The mixed origins of the fabric make it a perfect metaphor for the multicultural identity embedded in the history of the United States.

On the spines of many of these books are, printed in gold, the names of people who immigrated, or whose antecedents immigrated to the United States. On other books are the names of African Americans who relocated or whose parents relocated out of the American South during the Great Migration. These names include W. E. B. Du Bois, Maria Goeppert Mayer, Steve Jobs, Bruce Lee, Ana Mendieta, Joni Mitchell, Toni Morrison, Barack Obama, Steven Spielberg, Carl Stokes, Donald Trump and Tiger Woods. These people have all made a significant contribution to aspects of American life and culture and represent every field from science to activism, music to philosophy and art to literature. Most of these people have also experienced varying degrees of discrimination and hardship during and after their or their family’s relocation. A further set of books within the library features the names of people who have spoken out against immigration, equality or diversity in America.

Through the website included in this installation you can learn more about the reasons for the migration of large groups of people and access content looking at immigration and internal mass migration from pro, anti and neutral viewpoints. Further information about the individuals named on the books is also available on this site.

The American Library is inspired by the ongoing debates about immigration and diversity in the United States, such as the discussion around the travel ban and the proposal to build a wall on the Mexican border to reduce immigration. It also looks at the discrimination against certain groups within the United States, despite their contributions to the country.

This installation asks us to consider what our society would be without the gifts that America’s immigrant populations and minority groups have brought to this land. It represents those seen as the ‘other’ who have made a valuable contribution to the nation’s history. However, it also looks at the people who have spoken out against those they don’t see as ‘truly American’ as a way to further explore these complex issues at the forefront of American life today.

This work was commissioned by Front International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art with funds from VIA Art Fund and with the assistance of James Cohan Gallery, New York. It is on display at Cleveland Public Library from July 14 until September 20, 2018.

 

FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art

FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art is an exhibition comprised of artist commissions, performances, films, and public programs that will launch its inaugural edition in July of 2018. An American City: Eleven Cultural Exercises, in collaboration with museums, civic institutions, and alternative spaces across Cleveland, Akron and Oberlin, will showcase an ambitious roster of projects, including performance and theater throughout the landscape and built environment. With a roster of national, international and area-based artists at all points in their career, FRONT will examine the ever-changing and politically urgent conditions of an American city.

 

 

Yinka Shonibare MBE: Wind Sculpture (SG) I

March 7th 2018 - October 14th 2018 at Doris C. Freedman Plaza, Central Park, New York.

February 21, 2018, NEW YORK, NY— On March 7, Public Art Fund will present Wind Sculpture (SG) I, a new sculpture by Yinka Shonibare MBE commissioned for Doris C. Freedman Plaza at the southeast entrance to Central Park. Created from fiberglass and covered with an intricate pattern, the 23-foot-tall sculpture will rise above the plaza, reminiscent of the untethered sail of a ship billowing in the breeze. Its unique, hand-painted pattern in turquoise, red, and orange — colours that the artist associates with his childhood on the beaches of Lagos — is inspired by Dutch wax batik print, which Shonibare has called the “perfect metaphor for multilayered identities”. This is the first work in a second generation of his celebrated Wind Sculpture series and continues Shonibare’s ongoing examination of the construction of cultural identity through the lens of colonialism. The work will create an opportunity to reflect on social issues associated with our current moment, including the movement of people and ideas across borders and the role of monuments in heterogeneous societies. Yinka Shonibare MBE: Wind Sculpture (SG) I will be on view March 7 – October 14, 2018 in Doris C. Freedman Plaza, Central Park.

“Monumental in scale and imposingly sited on axis with the entrance to Central Park, Yinka Shonibare’s Wind Sculpture (SG) I assumes the aspect of a classical civic monument. However, its lithe and undulating form and its vibrant, colorful surface suggest a very different approach,” says Public Art Fund Director & Chief Curator Nicholas Baume. “This is one of his most abstract works, yet it still tells a story. Its patterned, fluttering sail suggests the geographical, cultural, and personal layers of a migration borne aloft on the cross currents of colonial history.”

Shonibare has described himself as a post-colonial hybrid, and his work in painting, sculpture, photography, film, and performance utilizes unexpected combinations of pattern and form to examine race, class, migration, and identity in a globalized world. The form of Wind Sculpture (SG) I suggests the movement of wind and natural elements rendered three-dimensionally through fabric, but also the sail of a ship, which for centuries was the only means of traversing oceans to exchange culture and ideas. The patterns on the surface are borrowed from vibrant batik textiles, which Shonibare has utilized in many forms and mediums and are often associated with European colonization of West Africa. However, these fabrics have a complicated history and came to the African continent by way of Indonesia through Dutch colonization in the 1800s. Today, these fabrics are still manufactured in the Netherlands, and sold and worn throughout West Africa. With Wind Sculpture (SG) I, Shonibare uses fabric as an entry point to rethink history and meaning and the relationship between Europe and Africa; it presents a story of shifting design and culture that also speaks to the confluence of many identities in public spaces.

In 2013, Shonibare first started working with fiberglass in a large-scale format beginning with the first generation of Wind Sculpture I-VII. Wind Sculpture VII was installed permanently outside the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in 2016. This transition to a second generation of sculptures includes a design of increased size and complexity, featuring multiple twists and deeper folds in the structure.
 
In conjunction with the exhibition, Yinka Shonibare MBE will give a Public Art Fund Talk in collaboration with the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School on March 5 where he will discuss his new work as it relates to his art practice and working in public space.
 
The exhibition is curated by Public Art Fund Director & Chief Curator Nicholas Baume. 

 

 

Smithsonian National Museum of African Art

Wind Sculpture VII

Wind Sculpture VII is the first sculpture installed permanently in front of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art. This unique, gold-leaf version of Shonibare’s Wind Sculptures series evokes the sails of ships that have crossed the Atlantic and other oceans, connecting nations through the exchange of ideas, products, and people. In its form, it captures histories that can be inspiring or brutal, but always complex. It suggests that the opening of the seas led not only to the slave trade and colonization, but also to the dynamic contributions of Africans and African heritage worldwide. Using yellow, blue, rose, and gold, Shonibare celebrates the African men, women, and children who have shaped the United States, Great Britain, and other nations of today and for the future.

 

 

 

Nelsons Ship in  Bottle
Nelsons Ship in Bottle
© 2010 Yinka Shonibare MBE

Yinka Shonibare MBE Nelson's Ship in a Bottle

Nelson's HMS Victory

'Nelson's Ship in a Bottle' originally debuted on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square and is now permantley on display at The Nation Maritime Museum in Greenwich.The work is an incredibly detailed, scaled-down replica of HMS Victory, on which Nelson died during the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October 1805. It has 80 cannon and 37 sails set as on the day of battle. The fabrics used were inspired by Indonesian batik, mass-produced by Dutch traders and sold in West Africa.

 

Wind Sculpture Howick Place
Wind Sculpture Howick Place
© 2014 Yinka Shonibare MBE

Yinka Shonibare MBE Wind Sculpture

Commission for Howick Place

Wind Sculpture, a site specific commision, is permanently displayed as part of Howick Place in Victoria, London. Measuring 6 metres by 3 metres, the work explores the notion of harnessing movement, through the idea of capturing and freezing a volume of wind in a moment in time.

 

To look at previous exhibitions see Press

 
©2018. All images are property of Yinka Shonibare MBE (RA).