Art at BRIGHTON FESTIVAL: Yinka Shonibare MBE – The British Library ** 3-25 May 2014 ** Brighton Museum
As the lead artist for this year’s HOUSE, Yinka Shonibare MBE’s new sculptural installation explores the impact of immigration on all aspects of British culture and considers notions of territory and place, cultural identity, displacement and refuge.
The shelves of the Old Reference Library are filled with books colourfully bound in Shonibare’s trademark wax cloth (itself a cross-cultural hybrid of Indonesian design and Dutch manufacture). On the spines are the names of people, both celebrated and unfamiliar, who, as immigrants, made unique contributions to our way of life; people like TS Eliot, Henry James, Hans Holbein, Kazuo Ishiguro, Zaha Hadid and many more.
Yinka Shonibare MBE’s work aims to make visible the cultural influences of colonisation and explore the rich complexity of post-colonial cultures; the ornate interior of the Old Reference Library, with its Raj-inspired architecture, is therefore the perfect setting for an installation that asks us to evaluate our attitudes to immigration and immigrants.