Shonibare purchases Dutch wax print fabric in African and diaspora marketplaces for use in his sculptures and installation pieces. Manufactured using technology imported from Indonesia to English and Dutch companies producing cloth for African marketplaces, these cloths often feature designs celebrating local political, cultural and sports figures. The artist sees the cloth as both a potent byproduct of the colonial period and a vehicle for post-colonial expressions of racial pride, nationalism and resistance.
This work is part of a recent project in which he features well-known Victorian figures as children. It playfully addresses the use of cloth borne of colonial trade as a diasporic identity marker and as a reminder of the imperialist agenda that supported the extravagances and mores of Victorian society. By reducing these famous figures to innocent children playing dress-up atop tables, Shonibare further highlights the absurdities of the Victorian culture that gave birth to its accompanying marketplaces and visual imagery.
Mannequin of a young girl without a head and dressed in a Victorian style dress made from brightly colored contemporary printed fabric decorated with a soccer ball and flower pattern.
African Mosaic: Selections from the Permanent Collection, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., November 19, 2013-ongoing (installed May 6, 2014 to September 11, 2015)
Yinka Shonibare MBE, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia, September 24, 2008-February 1, 2009; Brooklyn Museum, June 26-September 20, 2009; National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., November 10, 2009-March 7, 2010
TxtStyles: Fashioning Identity, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., June 11-December 7, 2008
Inscribing Meaning: Writing and Graphic Systems in African Art, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, May 9- August 26, 2007; Fowler Museum at University of California, Los Angeles, October 14, 2007-February 17, 2008
Encounters with the Contemporary, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., January 7, 2001-January 6, 2002
Kreamer, Christine, Mary Nooter Roberts, Elizabeth Harney and Allyson Purpura. 2007. Inscribing Meaning: Writing and Graphic Systems in African Art. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution; Milan: 5 Continents Editions, pp. 64-65, no. 4.13.
Milbourne, Karen E. 2009. Yinka Shonibare MBE. Exhibition brochure. Washington, D.C.: National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Shonibare, Yinka. 2008. Yinka Shonibare, MBE. Munich; New York: Prestel, p. 214 (not illustrated).
Shonibare, Yinka. 2011. Yinka Shonibare MBE: El Futuro del Pasado. Madrid: Comunidad de Madrid, pp. 33, 182.