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Yinka Shonibare, MBE
British, b.1962
Un Ballo in Maschera (Courtiers V), 2004
Three mannequins on glass bases, Dutch wax-printed cotton fabric, and leather shoes
170.2 x 304.8 x 182.9 cm (67 x 120 x 72 inches) (overall)
Richard Brown Baker Fund for Contemporary British Art 2005.52

Yinka Shonibare, MBE

Un Ballo in Maschera (Courtiers V)

Yinka Shonibare, MBE
British, b.1962
Un Ballo in Maschera (Courtiers V), 2004
Three mannequins on glass bases, Dutch wax-printed cotton fabric, and leather shoes
170.2 x 304.8 x 182.9 cm (67 x 120 x 72 inches) (overall)
Richard Brown Baker Fund for Contemporary British Art 2005.52

Shonibare combines elements from his home cultures, Britain and Nigeria, to reflect complex historical relationships and his own dual identity. Un Ballo in Maschera (A Masked Ball) features eighteenth-century European style costumes made from cloth associated with West Africa. The sculpture is related to Shonibare’s lavish film, also titled after Giuseppe Verdi’s 1859 opera, in which dancers wore these costumes. Both the opera and film contemplate themes of masking and mistaken identities, personally and politically. The complexity of the subject is embedded in the cloth itself. Brightly patterned ‘Dutch-wax fabric’ was originally produced in Holland to imitate Indonesian batik, later manufactured in England for the West African market, and adopted as a symbol of ‘authentic’ culture throughout the African diaspora.


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