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Julie Joyce

As Curator of Contemporary Art at Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Julie Joyce was responsible for presenting Yinka Shonibare MBE: A Flying Machine for Every Man, Woman and Child and Other Astonishing Works. The exhibition took place at Santa Barbara Museum of Art, March 14 - June 21, 2009. The accompanying catalogue featured an essay by Julie Joyce,. 

Wrote Joyce, “As layered as the brilliant hues, contours, and patterns of the Dutch wax print cottons that Yinka Shonibare employs as his primary medium are the cultural, social and political implications behind their making. For these vividly colored fabrics, commonly identified as African batiks and found in textile markets from Lagos to Brixton to the Bronx, have a compelling history of their own. This type of fabric was originally mastered through a handcrafted technique developed by Indonesian artisans and subsequently co-opted and industrialized by the Dutch and the British in the 1800s. Exported to Africa via routes forged by European colonialism and the slave trade, these fabrics became widely popular in western Africa from the moment of their arrival, and subsequently synonymous with African independence in the 1960s, and Black Power in the United States in the 1970s. While there was initially nothing African about this material, it has become so completely ingrained in African culture and identity that one might never suspect it hailed from anywhere else in the world.

So adept is the artist’s choice of these Dutch wax printed textiles as the cornerstone of his work that they were recently referred to by one scholar as “the perfect medium’” (i) They seemed to be just that when Shonibare first began using them as canvases over wood stretchers, or as “paintings,” in the 1990s. Carrying with them the baggage of confounded historical identities, these works also confounded the perceived differences between painting and decoration, or high and low art. Soon after, the artist began creating his now signature costumed mannequins, positioning them in vignettes alluding to historical moments both actual and fictional. Taking a cue from the theatrical temperament of his own practice, Shonibare later created serial photographs of staged scenarios in the works Diary of a Victorian Dandy (1998) and Dorian Gray (2001), wherein he assumes the identity of the protagonist in each to tragic-comic affect. His entry into film was, from there, inevitable, and realized first in the critically acclaimed Un Ballo in Maschera (2004) (a part of the exhibition).”

 

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click to show details of Yinka Shonibare MBE: a Flying Machine... catalogue

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Catalogue relating to an exhibition, 2009