Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Art/Fashion: Yinka Shonibare's "Rich Little Girls"

"Rich Little Girls" by Yinka Shonibare 

Commenting on his display at Trafalgar Square earlier this year, Yinka Shonibare said: "People have come to associate the fabric with Africa, but actually it is Indonesian-influenced fabric produced by the Dutch for sales to the African market. It was made in Hyde...and I buy it in Brixton market. I like the fact that something seen as being African is actually the product of quite complex cultural relationships." 

Rich Little Girls, his specially commissioned display as part of Aware: Art Fashion Identity at London's Royal Academy, explores that complexity in Shonibare's masterful juxtaposition of the Victorian and the "African". But it's seldom that simple with art. Whatever one makes of it, it's thrilling to see commonplace ankara transformed yet again as part of a larger narrative/installation on race and culture. It's interesting that clothes, if we pay closer attention to them, are usually more than just clothes - their threads could very well be griots binding the Netherlands, Indonesia and much of Africa in a historical triangle of sorts. For Rich Little Girls, it's fashion, it's art, it's culture/race, and it's "African". Or is it?

The exhibition ends on Jan. 30, 2011.


Source: T Magazine

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