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As part of its 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening & Day Sales this February, Phillips, London, is pleased to present A Vision in Red: Property from a Private Swiss Collection comprising six energetic works, at the center of which is El Anatsui’s “Affirmation” (2014), a wall-mounted installation made up of myriad aluminum bottle caps woven into one vast, shimmering curtain. Also on offer are two lots by Louise Bourgeois, a mixed-media painting by Ghada Amer, a larger-than-life print by Halim Al Karim, and a stainless steel construction by Subodh Gupta.
Ever since his 1999 discovery of a bag full of metal seals from African liquor bottles, Anatsui has continually worked on wall assemblages made of bottle caps, crushing the found elements into circles or cutting them into strips, subsequently sewing the parts together to form monumental tapestries. As quoted in Erika Gee’s Educator’s Guide for the Museum of African Art’s 2010 exhibition El Anatsui: When I Last Wrote to You About Africa, the artist explains the meaning of his preferred material:
When I first found the bag of bottle tops, I thought of the objects as links between Africa and Europe. European traders introduced the bottle tops, and alcohol was used in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Europeans made rum in the West Indies, took it to Liverpool, and then sent it back to Africa. For me, the bottle caps have a strong reference to the history of Africa.
As part of the artist’s Theory of Se series, “Affirmation” touches on numerous references pertaining to Anatsui’s cultural background, namely delving into the notion of “Se”, which signifies fate, fortune, or destiny in the Ewe language. “Se” overarches the artistic intention with which Anatsui created the present work and its counterparts; within this theme, the artist explored three states of mind: affirmation, intimation, and revelation.
Accompanying Anatsui’s “Affirmation” in A Vision in Red are five works in the Phillips February Day Sale: two pieces by the late Louise Bourgeois, “Untitled” (2006) and “Spiral” (2010), Ghada Amer’s “In Red and pale-RFGA” (2013), Halim Al Karim’s “Untitled 1 (from the King’s Harem series)” (2008), and “Bucket” by Subodh Gupta (2007). Together, the works from A Vision in Red compose an immersive picture of complex materiality and vibrant color, united by their defining tonal dynamism.
For details on “Affirmation” by El Anatsui and other work featured in the sales, visit phillips.com/auctions.
“Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants—11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data—a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were…
he ownership of images has a long and nuanced legal history, which has evolved dramatically in recent years as cultural standards and photographic technologies have rapidly advanced
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Renty and his daughter Delia. Renty was an enslaved African, kidnapped from the Congo, sold and forced into slave labor on the South Carolina plantation of B.F. Taylor
What is the relation between possessing a person, possessing their image, and dispossessing their progeny
As a scholar of African American history and photography whose work has focused on the status of violent images in museums and archives, I fully support the validity of Ms. Tamara Lanier’s claim and the amicus brief.
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I am writing in support of the amicus curiae brief submitted by Professor Ariella Aïsha Azoulay of Brown University for the full restitution of the daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor and his daughter Delia, currently held by Harvard University, to their familial descendant, Tamara Lanier.
We cannot be indifferent to the long-lasting effects of photography. The photographs at the center of Lanier v. Harvard are relentless in making Renty and Delia Taylor work and perform as slaves. The pain inflicted on them has not ceased. Photography has the capacity to propagate harm, and we have the moral obligation to interrupt…