Yinka Shonibare, MBE (British-Nigerian, born 1962), Homeless Child, 2012 - Recent Acquisition Details

Yinka Shonibare, MBE (British-Nigerian, born 1962), Homeless Child, 2012

Yinka Shonibare, MBE (British-Nigerian, born 1962), Homeless Child, 2012

The Toledo Museum of Art acquired Yinka Shonibare's Homeless Child (left) late in 2013. Born in London to Nigerian parents, Yinka Shonibare explores through parody and irony questions of identity, social hierarchy, and the colonization of Africa. The wax-print fabrics Shonibare uses for many of his works are made with an Indonesian technique, manufactured in England and Holland, and exported to Africa. For Shonibare, this fabric—wrongly commercialized as African—is a comment on globalization and the meaning of authenticity. The Toledo Museum also acquired Rubber Soul, Monument of Aspiration, by the South African artist, Mary Sibande (lower left). In her work Sibande investigates issues of race, class, and power in post-Apartheid South Africa. Rubber Soul is the last in a series depicting Sibande’s semi-autobiographical character Sophie, a South African maid. Sophie tends to appear as a matte black mannequin with her eyes closed, dressed seemingly both as a maid and a Victorian madam. This ambiguity of costume is a way for Sibande to question the overly simplistic dichotomies of servant versus mistress and black versus white, while asserting the power of fantasy and self-fashioned identity. The khaki fabric and brass buttons of Sophie’s dress are associated with the characteristic suits of male members of the South African Zionist Christian Church, as are the white, rubber-soled shoes and Sophie’s jumping action, part of male churchgoers’ praise rituals. By wearing these clothes and engaging in this forbidden activity, Sophie is directly and powerfully challenging gender norms.