About This Artwork
Born in Ghana and based in Nigeria, El Anatsui crafts giant shimmering sheets from bottle caps, reused aluminum commercial packaging, copper wire, and other materials. The elaborate works hang like tapestries, referencing kente cloth. Traditional kente fabric is used in Nigerian and sub-Saharan African culture for clothing worn on important occasions and has been appropriated for numerous uses globally. The firm square of woven red liquor labels that make up Red Block can be folded and hung according to the curation of the institution that displays it. The materials are embedded with multiple histories and influences, ranging from the effect of the colonial period on Africa to current problems facing its people, including alcoholism, pervasive poverty, and the impact of global markets on the continent’s economies.