Yinka Shonibare celebrates the opening of Yinka Shonibare MBE: Magic Ladders, on view at the Barnes Foundation. Photo by Darryl W. Moran.
Princeton University Associate Professor Chika Okeke-Agulu discusses Shonibare's work within the context of contemporary and historical African art.
This event has been organized in conjunction with The Barnes Foundation's exhibition Yinka Shonibare MBE: Magic Ladders.Nigerian-born, London-based Yinka Shonibare's first major Philadelphia exhibition since his artist residency at the Fabric Workshop and Museum in 2004 includes works of sculpture, photography, painting, and installation, with a focus on themes of education, enlightenment, and opportunity. It also includes a new commission, Magic Ladders, the Barnes Foundation's first collaboration with a contemporary artist since Alfred Barnes commissioned Henri Matisse's La Danse II in 1930. Shonibare, whose work offers a provocative exploration of race, slavery, economics, and European and African identities, conceived of this exhibition after researching Barnes' progressive educational practices. Barnes was one of the first American collectors to regard African art as fine art rather than ethnographic curiosity, though his acquisitions were made possible by the imperialist colonization of Africa. Shonibare's sculptures, particularly works like Scramble for Africa (2003), will raise inevitable questions about Barnes' practice when seen in this context, and will challenge traditional interpretations of the collection from a contemporary point of view.
This event costs $20; members $15. Magic Ladders admission included.