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'rak'rüm (noun);
the back room of an art gallery
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Shonibare-by-sal-idriss
Sketch of Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle (Fourth Plinth project in Trafalgar Square, London), Yinka ShonibareYinka Shonibare,
Sketch of Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle (Fourth Plinth project in Trafalgar Square, London),
2010
© Courtesy the artist and Bolton & Quinn Ltd.
Maquette of Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle (Fourth Plinth project in Trafalgar Square, London), Yinka ShonibareYinka Shonibare,
Maquette of Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle (Fourth Plinth project in Trafalgar Square, London),
2010
© Courtesy of James O. Jenkins
The Big Three (Ford), Yinka ShonibareYinka Shonibare, The Big Three (Ford),
2009, Mannequin, Dutch wax printed cotton textile, leather and wood, 175 x 120 x 89cm
© Courtesy the artist and Bolton & Quinn Ltd.
The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (Europe) , Yinka ShonibareYinka Shonibare,
The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (Europe) ,
2008, C-print mounted on aluminum
© Image courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery, New York, NY
Colonel Tarleton and Mrs Oswald Shooting  , Yinka ShonibareYinka Shonibare,
Colonel Tarleton and Mrs Oswald Shooting ,
2007, Colonel Tarleton on plinth , 356 389 x 192 x 152cm
© Courtesy the artist and Bolton & Quinn Ltd.
Black Gold I, Yinka ShonibareYinka Shonibare, Black Gold I,
2006, Acrylic paint on 25 Dutch wax printed cotton canvases, 330 x 673cm
© Courtesy of the artist and Bolton & Quinn Ltd.
Un ballo in maschera, Yinka ShonibareYinka Shonibare, Un ballo in maschera,
2004, high-definition digital loop, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund
© Yinka Shonibare, MBE
Space Walk, Yinka ShonibareYinka Shonibare, Space Walk,
2002, printed cotton fabric, fibreglass, plywood, vinyl, plastic, steel, Astronauts each: 212 x 63 x 56cm
© Courtesy the artist and Bolton & Quinn Ltd.
Diary of a Victorian Dandy: 11.00, Yinka ShonibareYinka Shonibare,
Diary of a Victorian Dandy: 11.00,
1998, C-type print, 51 x 61 cm
© Courtesy the artist and Bolton & Quinn Ltd.
Diary of a Victorian Dandy: 14.00, Yinka ShonibareYinka Shonibare,
Diary of a Victorian Dandy: 14.00,
1998, C-type print, 51 x 61cm
© Courtesy the artist and Bolton & Quinn Ltd.
Dorian Gray, Yinka ShonibareYinka Shonibare, Dorian Gray,
2001, Black and white resin prints, 1 digital lambda print
© Courtesy of the artist & 21C Museum
Dollhouse, Yinka ShonibareYinka Shonibare, Dollhouse
Fake Death Picture (The Death of Chatterton - Henry Wallis), Yinka Shonibare, MBEYinka Shonibare, MBE,
Fake Death Picture (The Death of Chatterton - Henry Wallis),
2011, digital chromogenic print, 58 5.63" x 71.25" (framed), Edition of 5
© Courtesy of the artist & SCAD Museum of Art
Yinka Shonibare, MBE was born in London and moved to Lagos, Nigeria at the age of three. He returned to London to study Fine Art first at the Byam Shaw School of Art, London and then at Goldsmiths College, London where he received his MFA. Shonibare’s work explores issues of race and class through the media of painting, sculpture, photography and, most recently, film. His signature material is the brightly coloure...[more]


RackRoom
Interview with Yinka Shonibare

London, May 2010 – ArtSlant writer Nicholas James had the great opportunity to have a brief chat with Yinka Shonibare about his commission for the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, London. The work was officially unveiled on 24 May 2010. Shonibare has exhibited internationally through platforms such as the Venice Biennial, Documenta 10, as well as being a Turner Prize nominee in 2004. Shonibare's Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle will be the first time that a commission for the Fourth Plinth responds directly to the context of  Trafalgar Square as this piece commemorates the battle of Trafalgar during the Napoleonic Wars.

Yinka Shonibare, MBE, Maquette of Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle, 2010; Courtesy James O. Jenkins


Nicholas James:  Your new work is presented on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square. Can you describe some of the initial thoughts you had in response to the commission?

Yinka Shonibare: I wanted to do something that related to the history of the square itself. As you know there is Nelson’s Column in the Square, then I thought about the Battle of Trafalgar, really thinking about, why is it called Trafalgar Square?  I arrived at HMS Victory, the ship in which Nelson won the battle. Because I’m of Nigerian origin, I was interested in the aspect of the British contact with Nigeria. The Victory at Trafalgar opened up British trade routes, that enabled contact with all kinds of people, and really  gave us the multi-cultural London we have today. So I wanted to relate contemporary London to that history.

NJ:  Can you explain more about your model of the Victory and how it differs from being just a replica?

YS: Well the sails on the ship are unusual; they are made out of African textiles. The textiles are Indonesian influenced batik, first produced by the Dutch in the 19th century, for sale to the African market. The fabrics were also produced in Manchester.  I buy the fabrics from Brixton market and they’ve become a kind of metaphor for the international trade routes.  It’s a way to talk about, you could say, globalisation on the one hand, and how this had its roots in the colonial period.

Yinka Shonibare, Sketch of Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle, 2010; Courtesy the artist and Bolton & Quinn Ltd


NJ:  You’ve made tableaux and models that transform scenes from history. In fact I came across a ship in an earlier exhibition called ‘The Medusa’, that was wrecked off the coast of Senegal. I wonder whether that work was at the back of your mind with the Victory in a bottle?

YS: Yes, I’m fascinated by ships anyway, so you are right. I have made a number of works around ships. La Meduse was a French ship wrecked off the coast of Senegal, and there was a scandal at the time because a lot of people died needlessly. Gericault made a painting about that incident.

NJ:  The epic painting, ‘The Raft of the Medusa.’

YS: Exactly. So historically ships have been the imperial vehicle, and in a sense my own identity has been formed by contacts made and battles fought over past trade routes. Of course the British Navy was very strong, Britain was a maritime country and with the Navy expanded its empire. So for many, many reasons  the ship has been the vehicle of migration, of the Diaspora. The ship played a significant role in the trading of slaves. The ship is the metaphor for the movement of people on a grand scale and is very significant in that sense.

NJ:  The plinth commission marks the fiftieth anniversary of Nigerian Independence. Is there a message that the work carries for everybody?

YS: Well in a way we’ve come full circle; the ship itself allowed the British Empire to grow and Nigeria is celebrating fifty years of independence from Britain. That independence is a kind of Nigerian self-esteem, if you like. The relationship Nigeria now has with Britain is very different, through the Commonwealth, and it’s no longer a subservient one. So maybe this is one way of celebrating that.


Artslant would like to thank Yinka Shonibare for his assistance in making this interview possible.

-- Nicholas James

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