Ghana sculptor El Anatsui finds inspiration in the waste caused by modern consumption. He creates colorful wall sculptures out of discarded aluminum bottle caps, seals and labels produced by local distilleries in Nigeria, where he’s lived for most of his career.
No. Instagram copywriter, that is entirely fucking wrong. Saying this guys art is inspired by trash is like saying a photographer is inspired by his cameras that use film.
I’m not saying art can’t be an entirely visceral exerpince, but that is not what El Anatsui communicates with his work. This work is about the culture of East Africa that is so complex that as Americans we can barely appreciate it. These pieces are about the changes brought about by modern culture. The purpose of consumption is something that didn’t exist here before. You didn’t have massive industries abstracting entire forms of production. Huge, literal mountains of discarded materials sweeping over the landscape.
El Anatsui is disseminating what it means for an entire culture to be turned inside out by it’s heart. Weaving traditional patterns out of the material of the new age. Creating a bridge where a dialogue about the changes happening through this massive technological shift. Things that were once a luxury are now common place, as the basic needs will still go unmet. The true needs of humans are the hardest to provide for. Booze is cheap, plentiful and powerful. There is a literal reshaping of how these countries work happening on a daily biases.
When I saw this work in person I was dumbfounded by its power.