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Curator's Note:

Tumultuous, expansive, inspirational - the past 10 years have had their ups and downs. How have contemporary artists reacted to the news of the day?

 

Art's relationship to its time is inherently complex. No matter what the particular subject at hand - be it social upheaval, the environment, mass media, or identity - today's art is layered with influences, sources and ideas. Loathe to be pinned down, contemporary artists serve no master, religion or propaganda, as they most often did in past centuries. Positioning themselves on the very edge of expression, the artists presented here pose questions and create new forms that open up ways of thinking and viewing the world.

--Wesley Miller, Associate Curator, Art21

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Exhibition Playlist

Empire

Exhibition playlist 7 of 9 ‹ previous | next ›

"The essence of empire is not fighting, is not conquering, it’s training indigenous forces to project power on their own, in their own interest but also in your interest…The real answer to avoiding future Iraq’s is not to be involved in less places, but more.” —Daniel Kaplan, America at a Crossroads: Inside America’s Empire (2007)

With the United States and Great Britain involved in conflicts overseas, and with the worldwide financial crisis precipitated by speculation in American and Europe, discussions of empire have dominated the decade. Two artists— Eleanor Antin and Yinka Shonibare MBE—offer imaginative and sustained critiques of empire, employing photographic and sculptural tableaus to link the present tense with historical events.

Eleanor Antin (Art in the Twenty-First Century Season 2, Episode: Humor)

Eleanor Antin delves into history—whether of ancient Rome, the Crimean War, the salons of nineteenth-century Europe, or her own Jewish heritage and Yiddish culture—as a way to explore the present.

Yinka Shonibare MBE (Art in the Twenty-First Century Season 5, Episode: Transformation)

Known for using batik in costumed dioramas that explore race and colonialism, Yinka Shonibare MBE also employs painting, sculpture, photography, and film in work that disrupts and challenges our notions of cultural identity. Taking on the honorific MBE as part of his name in everyday use, Shonibare plays with the ambiguities and contradictions of his attitude toward the Establishment and its legacies of colonialism and class.

Images (in order of appearance): Eleanor Antin; The Tourists from Helen's Odyssey, 2007; Chromogenic print, 61 x 77 7/8 inches; Courtesy Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York. Eleanor Antin; Plaisir d'Amour (after Couture) from Helen's Odyssey, 2007; Chromogenic print, 61 x 92 1/2 inches; Courtesy Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York. Eleanor Antin; The Artist’s Studio from The Last Days of Pompeii, 2001; Chromogenic print, 46 5/8 x 58 5/8 inches; Courtesy Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York. Eleanor Antin; A Hot Afternoon from The Last Days of Pompeii, 2001; Chromogenic print, 46 5/8 x 58 5/8 inches; Courtesy Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York. Eleanor Antin; The Death of Petronius from The Last Days of Pompeii, 2001; Chromogenic print, 46 5/8 x 94 5/8 inches; Courtesy Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York. Eleanor Antin; The Golden Death from The Last Days of Pompeii, 2001; Chromogenic print, 58 5/8 x 46 5/8 inches; Courtesy Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York. Yinka Shonibare MBE; The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (Africa), 2008; Type-C photograph mounted on aluminum, 72 x 49 1/2 inches; Edition 5/5; CB Collection, Tokyo, Japan; © Yinka Shonibare MBE. Courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London. Yinka Shonibare MBE; The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (Asia), 2008; Type C photograph mounted on aluminum, 72 x 49 1/2 inches; Edition 5/5; CB Collection, Tokyo, Japan; © Yinka Shonibare MBE. Courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London. Yinka Shonibare MBE; Scramble for Africa, 2003; 14 life-size fiberglass mannequins, 14 chairs, table, and Dutch wax printed cotton, overall 52 x 192 1/10 x 110 1/5 inches overall; Commissioned by the Museum of African Art, Long Island City, New York; Collection of The Pinnell Collection, Dallas; Photo by Stephen White; © Yinka Shonibare MBE; Courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London. Yinka Shonibare MBE; Scramble for Africa, detail, 2003; 14 life-size fiberglass mannequins, 14 chairs, table, and Dutch wax printed cotton, overall 52 x 192 1/10 x 110 1/5 inches; Commissioned by the Museum of African Art, Long Island City, New York; Collection of The Pinnell Collection, Dallas; Photo by Stephen White; © Yinka Shonibare MBE. Courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London. Yinka Shonibare MBE; The Pursuit, 2007; Two life-size mannequins, Dutch wax printed cotton, shoes, coir, matting, artificial silk flowers, and mixed media, dimensions variable; male figure: 63 4/5 x 63 2/5 x 78 7/10 inches overall, female figure: 66 1/2 x 74 4/5 x 55 1/10 inches overall; Commissioned by the Musée du Quai Branly, Paris; Installation view at Jardin d’Amour, Musée du Quai Branly, 2007; Photo by Patrick Gries for the Musée du Quai Branly; © Yinka Shonibare MBE; Courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London. Yinka Shonibare MBE; How to Blow up Two Heads at Once (Ladies), 2006; Two-life size mannequins, two guns, Dutch wax printed cotton, shoes, and leather riding boots, dimensions variable; plinth:63 x 96 1/2 x 48 inches overall, each figure: 63 x 61 x 48 inches overall; Collection of Davis Museum and Cultural Center, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA; Photo by Stephen White © Yinka Shonibare MBE; Courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London.

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