Because I’ve had a nasty bug this week I stayed at home and had plenty of time to prepare my Pecha Kucha, but no opportunity to share it. Here are a few of the images.
Since the Paul Goodwin sessions I’ve been thinking about how to convey important messages from history. I think these three works do this very effectively.
The image above is from Lisa Reihana’s in Pursuit of Venus [infected] 2015-17. It’s part of a 26 metres wide panoramic video about the impact of European explorers on the indigenous people of the Pacific. The background is based on French 19th century decorative wallpaper called ‘Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique”, but it’s romantic view is subverted by superimposing scenes acted out from a Maori and Pacific perspective. It’s 32 minutes long and totally absorbing. It was shown at the Venice Biennale and will be at the Royal Academy in the New Year.
These are images of Yinka Shonibare’s End of Empire 2016 that was commissioned by Turner Contemporary to mark the centenary of the First World War. The two Victorian gentleman on the seesaw are dressed in Shonibare’s trademark “African” textiles and their globe heads show that they represent the Franco-British and Austro-Hungarian/German alliances. The work highlights the impact that these empires not only had, but still have, on the world today. I saw it about 18 months ago and its impact has stayed with me.
And last, but not least, Turner prizewinner Lubaina Himid’s Naming the Money that consists of 100 life size cut-outs of slaves/servants/emigres/asylum seekers. In the 18th and 19th century the European wealthy classes used enslaved African men and women to flaunt their affluence and power. Lubaina Himid gives each of these forgotten people a voice and a story and has created a wonderful celebration of their lives. Twenty of the cut-outs are currently on show in the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool.
All the artists draw on their own cultural heritages to create these works. Having immersed themselves in their subjects, they have distilled complex issues into relatively simple but very powerful ideas. Because of the scale and ambition of Lisa Reihana’s and Lubaina Himid’s works, they have been developed over many years. All three works are extremely engaging – and make history very accessible.