Through life-sized sculptures, artist Yinka Shonibare CBE considers the grasp of colonialism and its lasting effects on modern conceptions of identity. Each faceless figure is in the midst of an action, presented shooting a mass of cherry blossoms from a rifle, lumbering forward with a hefty mesh sack, or balancing a towering stack of cakes. Evocatively posed, the figures are topped with globes and astronaut helmets, which simultaneously gestures toward movement in the form of travel and exploration while obscuring individual identities.
Known for using patterned textiles across mediums, the British-Nigerian artist outfits his surreal sculptures with Batik fabrics, which have a history rooted in colonialism. Originally practiced in Southeast Asia, the wax-dyeing method was adopted by the Dutch, who commercially produced the patterned textiles and sold them to West African colonies. Since the 1960s, the vibrant fabric has come to signal African independence and identity.
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Lithuanian artist Severija Inčirauskaitė-Kriaunevičienė (previously here, here, and here) uses cross-stitch embroidery to soften metal objects that seem materially opposed to the craft, having previously worked with car doors, spoons, pots, pans, and shovels. In her latest exhibition “Kill for Peace,” Inčirauskaitė-Kriaunevičienė used helmets from armies of various countries, stitching roses, violets, and thorns onto their surfaces. These helmets were presented at the contemporary art fair Art Vilnius 2016 where she was awarded for best installation at the fair. You can see more embroidered works on her website.
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