Reuse, Recycle

11/19/2013

I was searching for artwork that would strike my fancy, El Anatsui’s work interested me when I saw it. I really like the idea of recycling, but unfortunately I do not do it. Last semester I visited Germany and saw how well their recycling program worked so I started doing it at home. When I moved to a bigger cabin my life became more hectic, so meow my recycling routing involves saving cardboard and paper plates for starting fires. When I move out I plan to recycle stuff again!

El Anatsui was born in 1944 in Ghana, specifically the Volta region. He studied at a university that is now known as the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. He became taught at a couple of colleges and is currently the head of sculpture at the UNN. His recent work in the past decade has been more popular than his previous works, but he has been creating for thirty years.

Anatsui makes use of tin, copper wire, aluminum plates, steel sheets, and many other recyclable materials in his art. He uses metal’s ability to hold a deformed shape to create all sorts of different art. Some of his work is abstract, some represent actual objects from African culture and history.

Crumbling Wall (2000)

Hood-Crumbling-WalllgPlace of creation unknown

Photo Source

ElAnatsuiCrumblingWallPhoto Source

The graters used to create this sculpture are used to prepare a product of cassava flour, gari, an important part of Western African traditional diets(1).  A grater is a piece of sheet metal with nails punched through it to leave an abrasive surface on the underside.  The production of gari is time-consuming and tedious and still done to this day.  The wall figuratively represents the decay and corruption of African culture in recent times, as well as literally representing the slow destruction of once-beautiful buildings.

Adinkra Sasa (2003)

anatsui-art-2003-003-adinkraPlace of creation unknown

Photo Source

adinkrasasadetailbigPhoto Source

Adinkras are traditional hand-woven African cloths that have symbols stamped into them.  Cloths used for funerals rituals are died dark colors, like black and brown(2).  This particular piece was made by Anatsui to represent the death of the African way of life by the invasion and tyranny of the British, as “sasa” means “patchwork” in Ewe.

Wastepaper Bag (2003)

WastePaper1lg

Place of Origin Unknown

Photo Source

Using aluminum plates and copper wire, Anatsui used recycled materials to create a garbage bag.  This piece makes extensive use of metal’s ability to deform to give the bag a wrinkled look.  This eight-foot tall piece of art is thought to represent the wastefulness that has infected Africa from outside influences.  The aluminum plates used for this were actually printing plates for obituaries (no longer useful), giving a second meaning to the work about the fragility of human life.

Sources:

http://africa.si.edu/exhibits/gawu/artworks.html

http://www.pbs.org/wonders/Kids/cloth/cloth.htm

http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/exhibitions/el_anatsui/

5 responses to “Reuse, Recycle

  1. I know what you mean about recycling in Germany!
    I also visited on exchange and I came back with garbage bin anxiety. .. No joke! Using trash in art is particularly popular in my hometown (its used to raise awareness about trash in the ocean). Grammatical note: “He became taught” in the 2nd paragraph warrants attention. Other than that, this is a great blog! Nice job interpreting the works (on some of them I wouldn’t even know where to start). I love how large the sculptures are and the cultural commentary they represent. You also did a good job explaining the cultural import behind the pieces like Crumbling Wall being made out of gari, a tediously made traditional food.

  2. Wow. You did an amazing job on this post!! Very educational and informative. On the island here where I live, recycling is talked about in small circles but it’s not in high demand, unfortunately. I never heard of gari before so it really has me interested in learning more about what that is and how it’s made. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. Your blog is interesting, as well as the works that you chose. I think that the artist you focused on has a deep and important message about society and the fragility of human life, and the ecosystem. It does show a need for us to be more ecologically responsible. I especially like the second picture, the Adinkras Sasa. That close up view that shows all the little plates that are put together to make the sculpture- wow. That must have taken a lot of work. By the way, I’m sure you already know about it, but if you’re concerned for recycling you can save up your glass, paper, plastic, and aluminum, and take them to the Taku parking lot at UAF to recycle them. But it can be difficult getting out there, especially in this weather, so I understand! Anyway, great blog!

  4. El Anatsui seem to be an artist that is very creative and thoughtful. I really like how the artist stick to his roots, by showing corruption and fragility in Africa. However, at the same time creating a message out of recycled things objects making a true effect of self preservation. The art that has been created is masterful and massive. I like how you pointed out in “The Crumbling Wall” the artist is showing corruption as well as literally the slow destructions of buildings. I can see this in the seeming less structural wall and the vivid ridges extruding and intruding in on the wall.

  5. El Anatsui seem to be an artist that is very creative and thoughtful. I really like how the artist stick to his roots, by showing corruption and fragility in Africa. However, at the same time creating a message out of recycled things objects making a true effect of self preservation. The art that has been created is masterful and massive. I like how you pointed out in “The Crumbling Wall” the artist is showing corruption as well as literally the slow destructions of buildings. I can see this in the seeming less structural wall and the vivid ridges extruding and intruding in on the wall.

Say something, I guess.

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