Another Man's Cloth, 2006, found aluminum, copper wire, 366 x 495 cm, courtesy of the Rubell Family Collection, Miami, and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York
In recent years, Nigerian artist El Anatsui has become known for shiny wall hangings composed of corks and bottle labels, which are woven into a rich and sensual tapestry resembling traditional West African Kente weaves. Historically, alcoholic beverages and textiles were exported to Africa from Europe as part of the slave trade. For many years, the consumption of alcohol on the African subcontinent was a mark of high social status. To this day, alcoholic beverages and African textiles are named after social or historical themes or events. In this work, the monumental wall hangings composed of rubbish function as a metaphor for destruction and reconstruction - for a wide range of political, social and historical changes that took place in Africa during and after the period of colonial rule. This work addresses the historical and ritual value of its material components; the relations between commerce, tradition and modernity that shaped the interaction between West Africa and the Western world; and the social status and identity of African men.
Born in Ghana, 1944; lives and works in Nigeria