Yinka Shonibare MBE: “Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle”

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Episode #111: Yinka Shonibare MBE discusses the theatricality and sense of wonder inherent in his public sculpture Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle, installed on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, London. Situated across from Nelson’s Column, a monument erected to honor Admiral Lord Nelson’s death at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 during the Napoleonic Wars, the brightly-colored sails of Shonibare’s boat reference the complex heritage of British colonialism and its multicultural present. The work is on view throughout this summer.

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. In multimedia projects that reveal his passion for art history, literature, and philosophy, Shonibare provides a critical tour of Western civilization and its achievements and failures.

Yinka Shonibare MBE is featured in the Season 5 (2010) episode Transformation of the Art in the Twenty-First Century television series on PBS. Download-to-own the full episode from iTunes.

Producer: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Interview: Susan Sollins. Camera: Ian Serfontein. Sound: Paul Stadden & Luke Williams. Editor: Joaquin Perez. Artwork Courtesy: Yinka Shonibare MBE. Thanks: Tamsin Selby & Greater London Authority.

Contributor
Wesley Miller is the Associate Curator at Art21. Miller co-curates the Art in the Twenty-First Century television series. He is also co-creator of the series New York Close Up.

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