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Yinka Shonibare MBE: a Flying Machine... catalogue

Catalogue relating to an exhibition, 2009
Published by: Santa Barbara Museum of Art
Year published: 2009

image of Yinka Shonibare MBE: a Flying Machine... catalogue

Small, very attractive catalogue to accompany Yinka Shonibare MBE: A Flying Machine for Every Man, Woman and Child and Other Astonishing Works, an exhibition that took place at Santa Barbara Museum of Art, March 14 - June 21, 2009. The catalogue featured an essay by Julie Joyce, Curator of Contemporary Art at Santa Barbara Museum of Art. 

Wrote Joyce, “As layered as the brilliant hues, contours, and parterns of the Dutch wax print cottons that Yinka Shonibare employs as his primary medium are the cultural, social and political implications behind their making. For these vividly colored fabrics, commonly identified as African batiks and found in textile markets from Lagos to Brixton to the Bronx, have a compelling history of their own. This type of fabric was originally mastered through a handcrafted technique developed by Indonesian artisans and subsequently co-opted and industrialized by the Dutch and the British in the 1800s. Exported to Africa via routes forged by European colonialism and the slave trade, these fabrics became widely popular in western Africa from the moment of their arrival, and subsequently synonymous with African independence in the 1960s, and Black Power in the United States in the 1970s. While there was initially nothing African about this material, it has become so completely ingrained in African culture and identity that one might never suspect it hailed from anywhere else in the world.

So adept is the artist’s choice of these Dutch wax printed textiles as the cornerstone of his work that they were recently referred to by one scholar as “the perfect medium’” (i) They seemed to be just that when Shonibare first began using them as canvases over wood stretchers, or as “paintings,” in the 1990s. Carrying with them the baggage of confounded historical identities, these works also confounded the perceived differences between painting and decoration, or high and low art. Soon after, the artist began creating his now signature costumed mannequins, positioning them in vignettes alluding to historical moments both actual and fictional. Taking a cue from the theatrical temperament of his own practice, Shonibare later created serial photographs of staged scenarios in the works Diary of a Victorian Dandy (1998) and Dorian Gray (2001), wherein he assumes the identity of the protagonist in each to tragic-comic affect. His entry into film was, from there, inevitable, and realized first in the critically acclaimed Un Ballo in Maschera (2004) (a part of the exhibition).”

(i) Sylvester Okwunodu Ogbechie, conversation with the author and Patsy Hicks, January 26, 2009.

The catalogue was substantially illustrated with images (including installation shots and film stills) relating to Shonibare’s practice.

Contents as follows:

Future Past | The Astonishing Work of Yinka Shonibare, MBE, essay by Julie Joyce

One page of credits, Checklist of the Exhibition, Acknowledgements, Sana Barbara Museum of Art Senior Staff.

The cover of the catalogue shows details of several works by Shonibare, featured in the exhibition.

Related people

»  Yinka Shonibare MBE CBE RA

Born, 1962 in London, England

Related exhibitions

Related venues

»  Miami Art Museum

Miami, Florida, USA, United States of America

»  Santa Barbara Museum of Art

Santa Barbara, California, United States of America