Friday, 16 May 2014

Interchange Junctions (2)

Interchange Junctions
5 Howick Place, London
10 May - 21 June 2014
Open Day Saturday 17 May 11am - 5pm

Chapter the second
in which the author explores notions of colonialism
indulges in some more churnalism and pseudo-academic debate
asks questions about the nature of artistic quarters 
and ponders the function of critique within art

Interchange Junctions follows on from Yinka Shonibare’s newly commissioned permanent Wind Sculpture, just off Howick Place, which has become an integral part of Victoria’s identity as a vibrant new cultural quarter. Wind Sculpture is a site specific response to the history of the area and continues Shonibare’s focus on themes of colonialism, trade, and race, employing the artist’s signature use of batik Dutch wax fabric designs which have become synonymous with African identity.

Colonialism is one of those few things that I accept as priori a Bad Thing (along with racism, alcoholism and curries with no vegetables). There is an argument that colonialism is a more complex mesh of influences, generating dynamic cultural hybrids, and I would assign Wind Chime to this tradition. It looks as if it has been Photoshopped into this scene, all jolly colours and imitating a swaying fabric against the stolidity and sternness of the buildings. 

Yet it is intrusive - not entirely unpleasantly so - but an alien presence in the urban space it inhabits. A reminder of colonialism's unwelcome presence, perforce. 

And I worry about this 'Victoria's identity as a vibrant new cultural quarter.' Often, this means gentrification of a once dismal area, given new life by artists who make use of the cheap rents, being followed by the commodification of the area into somewhere the artists can no longer afford to inhabit. Perhaps that is just Glasgow.

Are these the questions that Yinka Shonibare wants to ask? Is this what the patrons were hoping for? The piece works as a cheery interjection, nonetheless...

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