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Yinka Shonibare, Scramble for Africa, 2003

From the National Museum of African Art:

Scramble for Africa is a pivotal work for Shonibare in its exploration of late Victorian England and its territorial expansion into Africa during the 1880s. The “scramble” for Africa by leading European and world powers resulted in the carving up of the continent, an act that was formalized at the Berlin Conference of 1884-85. Shonibare’s work depicts this historic gathering, showing various statesmen huddled around a table with a large map of Africa, eagerly staking their claims. In Shonibare’s interpretation the heads of state are characteristically headless—and equally mindless in their hunger for what Belgian King Leopold II called “a slice of this magnificent cake.”

Scramble for Africa is presented upon a raised platform that is lit from underneath, giving it a heightened sense of visual drama. Like actors upon a stage, the headless leaders gesticulate to one another as they scramble for the riches of the continent. Shonibare says, “Theatricality is certainly a device in my work, it is a way of setting the stage; it is also a fiction—a hyper-real, theatrical device that enables you to re-imagine events from history… . Scramble for Africa examines how history repeats itself and when I was making it I was really thinking about American imperialism and the need in the West for resources such as oil and how this pre-empts the annexation of different parts of the world.” 

(via cavetocanvas)

(via africlecticmagazine)

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    This is a powerful piece…particularly if you know about this part of history.
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