MCA Chicago Plaza Project: Yinka Shonibare, MBE

Yinka’s work really investigates this movement of ideas, of national identity, of cultural objects.

He was born in Britain, but raised in Lagos, Nigeria.

Yinka’s work really investigates this movement of ideas, of national identity, of cultural objects.

So, Yinka’s sculptures and installations, which used fabric, use them quite literally. They are commonly known as African fabrics but in fact they are Dutch invention.

They imitate the fabric from Indonesia, however, they never really took off in Indonesia and so the Dutch decided to sell them off to the British who then sold them to their own colonies and they really took off as objects in Western Africa. The fabrics become their own symbol of a move of cultural identity.

They are fiberglass sculptures that have a steel armature on the inside.

They’re given this sort of paper-thin quality and they look quite weightless as if the fabric is sort of snapping and dancing in the wind.