SEPTEMBER 16, 2011
The Anderson Art Gallery unveiled its new exhibit “Environment and Object” on Sept. 9, featuring artwork by contemporary African artists.
The two-level exhibit features artwork from artists such as El Anatsui, Viyé Diba, Bright Ugochukwu Eke and more, many of whom reside in Africa. Many of the pieces touch on social or economic issues prevalent in Africa today.
Barthélémy Toguo made his political stance clear with his three photographs “Stupid African President,” which feature the artist as the central figure. One photo presents a commander in chief orating vaguely, another with a chainsaw on his head and the last sitting in a barrel labeled “Afrika Oil?”
“Toguo’s deadpan, ambigious expression and passive pose,” as described by museum commentary, “all lend a sinister mood, as if this ‘stupid African president’ has gotten in over his head …”
Most of the artwork in the exhibit makes use of found objects, particularly plastics. Eke made a large oscillating wall fixture out of discarded plastic bottles, while Nnenna Okore weaved plastic shopping bags together into a thick draping curtain. El Anatsui also used discarded bottle tops and foil wrappers to make several tapestries.
“I really liked (El Anatsui’s) art, with the copper wire and the way he uses found objects,” sophomore painting and printmaking major Brooke Powers said. “It’s just so intricate and beautiful.”
Diba took up an entire room with his piece “Nous sommes nombreux, et nos problèmes avec...” (We are numerous, and our problems with that). The piece litters the floor with plastic bags of indiscernible objects, representing many of the transactions done in Dakar, Senegal. Diba says that he sees the objects around him as memory and remnants of human activity.