Sunday, November 25, 2012

Migration and Consumption: What We Create

Title of Installation by El Anatsui

“Africa is also our Mexican heritage,” mi tio Pepe would often say when there were family discussions about Mexican history, culture, and language.  His words have continually led me to research some of those connections.  Most recently, I think of the work of Xanath Caraza who weaves African rhythms/words into her multi-lingual poetry.  Veracruz, Guerrero, Oaxaca—all historical and present sites of Afromestizo comunidades. 

This week, I took my parents to the Denver, Colorado Art Museum and we spent a lot of time marveling at the work of El Anatsui.  My stepfather immediately pointed out his name: “El” Anatsui.  But “El Anatsui,” the artist who works primarily in sculpture (wood, ceramic, mixed media), has no direct connection to Mexico.  He is a Ghanian artist, born in 1944, and has spent most of his adult life creating art in Nigeria.
El Anatsui in front of installation, "Stressed World"
A side note:  Ghana is known for successfully cultivating cacao from Mexico.  This “side note” does not have much to do with El Anatsui, and yet when looking at his work, it certainly does connect in a global sense.  El Anatsui’s bottle cap drapery is all about, as he has said in more than one interview,  "the history of migration and consumption."

Stressed World
close-up of "Stressed World"

In 2002, Anatsui came upon a huge collection of metal tops from liquor bottles.  At first he didn’t know what to do with this material.  While working on other projects, he would contemplate his horde of tin and soon he began weaving these disparate strips and round caps with copper wire, creating intensely brilliant tapestries. He calls this installation:  "When I Last Wrote to You About Africa." 

Takari in Blue

I bring some of them to you today and if you are in the Denver area, check them out.  They are much more poignant/painfully beautiful in person.  Mi tio Pepe would have loved these.  "When I Last Wrote to You About Africa" will be at The Denver Art Museum until January 6, 2013.  

Close up to show intricate weaving

Click here for:
1.     Denver Art Museum

Sending you all, Queridas y Queridos La Blog readers, abrazos desde Denver!


Unknown said...

i really enjoyed this post and learning something knew about Africa. His work reminded me of the travel that slaves underwent from the interior to the coast and then onto the middle passage. I kept hearing the drums beckoning for their return home.

Unknown said...

Very interesting.