As a new segment this summer, the IMA Blog will be featuring a Tuesday Photo of the Week, highlighting juicy tidbits of info including works of art, artists, news, events, or locations.
One of my favorite pieces in the IMA’s collection is a delicately textured work entitled Duvor, or ‘Communal Cloth,’ by Ghanian born artist El Anatsui. He lives and works in Nigeria as a sculptor and professor.
Duvor is a shimmery, undulating sculpture, made from thousands of collected bottle caps and copper wire, and reminiscent of fabric or chain mail. It hangs in the hallway of the second floor, between the African and Fashion Textile Galleries. Smart move, IMA. This work will stop you in your tracks.
Duvor is captivating, and it makes a strong statement about tradition, trash, beauty and modern Africa. Sustainability is a buzzword now popular in relation to global warming and going green, but not necessarily something I expected to find at IMA. He confronts the social problem of trash by transforming and repurposing it, sustainability at its most beautiful. The patterning is homage to the textiles of Western Africa, including Kente cloth, a woven textile which is known as nwentoma in Ghana.
Anatsui’s sculpture background is evident in the delicate forms created by the rippling and bunching of his ‘fabric,’ something I would guess is not easy to coax out of bits of metal. The installation process with the IMA team shows how he works with the metal until he gets it just right.
As I have thought about this work, fueled by recent readings, I have been thinking about how something like this is classified. Duvor is many things. It is inherently African. It was created in 2007, so it is contemporary. It is also technically a part of the Fashion and Textile collection here at the museum. I know that designating categories is how we find things; we sort by time, place, origin, material, color, size, etc. But I wonder if something like this can ever be all three, equally. Is it just our nature to want a primary category?
Ultimately, where does this object fit in? Who should decide where it goes? Ponder that, and discover some things you might not have already known.
- El Anatsui studied Sculpture and Art Education, and teaches at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
- Ghana and Nigeria are along the West coast of Africa.
- It is 5765 Miles from Indianapolis to Accra, Ghana.
- The word Kente comes from kenten, for basket.
- Kente cloth patterns are associated with stories and proverbs, which give the specific patterns their names.
- Recycling aluminum saves 95% of the energy cost of processing it new.
- One recycled aluminum can saves enough energy to run a T.V. for 3 hours.
Filed under: Art