Yinka Shonibare, MBE (RA)
Invasions, Escape: Aliens do it right!


Carriageworks
Invasions, Escape: Aliens do it right!
, 2012
Installation view
Click to enlarge

The inaugural exhibition by Yinka Shonibare, MBE at Anna Schwartz Gallery focuses on the idea of the alien as a means of exploring the turbulent history of immigration. Fictionalised beings as symbols of foreignness provide a humorous, naive and populist aesthetic to raise issues of belonging in a globalised world.

The exhibition highlights the tension between authorized and unauthorized settlement in Australia, a country peopled by foreign settlers since 1788. Debates in foreign policy, from the White Australia Policy (1901) to the Pacific Solution (2001) are invoked by the works that comprise ‘Invasion, Escape; Aliens do it right!’.

Utilising three mediums; sculpture, painting and drawing, the audience initially encounters three aliens: a single standing figure and two in spectacular flying machines which rupture the gallery space, suggestive of an invasion. The pieces address xenophobia and the alienation of foreigners.

Alien Toy Painting, an imagined galaxy, comprising seventy-five round batic paintings installed on a black background, stretches across the gallery wall. Thick painting is used alternatively on the front and the sides of the orbs. Balanced on delicate, coloured spindles, a variety of space themed toys halo the works. Lego men, Star Wars paraphernalia and alien eggs playfully question the notion of citizenship and nationalism.

The exhibition significantly includes a large scale assemblage of twenty-four works on paper. These intimate collages chart Australia’s history of immigration utilising historical documentation including passenger lists from the first ships leaving England, extracts from British court records, contemporary newspaper articles about the Tampa crisis, gold leaf and Sci-Fi cartoons. They are installed, by virtue of the coloured backgrounds and frames, in the form of the indigenous Australian flag. This acknowledges the significance of Aboriginal culture as the foundation upon which Australia was built.

The theme of indigeneity is furthered by Shonibare’s totem paintings. Looming, rectangular paintings are propped against the walls, vividly coloured, painted nails spiking their sides. Shonibare’s tactile paint surfaces alternate between the side and front of the batic canvases. As a pop interpretation of African fetish objects, the works speak of artificial exoticism. The use of industrially produced textiles, nails and paint combine to create Shonibare’s ironic expression.

Yinka Shonibare, MBE was a Turner Prize nominee in 2004 and was awarded the decoration of Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. He was commissioned by Okwui Enwezor for ‘Documenta XI’ in 2002. This notable inclusion introduced him to an international audience, and recognised him as a leading force in contemporary African art. The artist has since exhibited at the Venice Biennale and in major institutions worldwide. In 2008, a mid-career survey was presented at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; this exhibition then toured to the Brooklyn Museum, New York and the National Museum of African Art at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C. In 2010, Shonibare’s Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle, his first public commission, was unveiled in London’s high profile site for sculpture, the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square.

Yinka Shonibare, MBE (RA)

Alien Child
, 2011
Steel armature, MDF, styrofoam glue and aluminium, wadding and batik fabric
115 x 70 x 64 cm

Yinka Shonibare, MBE (RA)

Alien man on flying machine
, 2011
Steel, aluminium, brass, batik and rubber
250 x 450 x 450 cm

Yinka Shonibare, MBE (RA)

Alien woman on flying machine
, 2011
Steel, aluminium, brass, batik and rubber
150 x 450 x 400 cm

Yinka Shonibare, MBE (RA)

Alien Toy Painting
, 2011
Paint, batik, fabric, steel, spray paint and MDF
75 panels: overall 375 x 1860 x 16 cm

Yinka Shonibare, MBE (RA)

Totem Painting 1
, 2011
Paint, batik fabric, steel nails, spray paint and MDF
250 x 60 x 10 cm

Yinka Shonibare, MBE (RA)

Totem Painting 2
, 2011
Paint, batik fabric, steel nails, spray paint and MDF
250 x 60 x 10 cm

Yinka Shonibare, MBE (RA)

Totem Painting 3
, 2011
Paint, batik fabric, steel nails, spray paint and MDF
250 x 60 x 10 cm

Yinka Shonibare, MBE (RA)

Totem Painting 4
, 2011
Paint, batik fabric, steel nails, spray paint and MDF
250 x 60 x 10 cm

Yinka Shonibare, MBE (RA)

Totem Painting 5
, 2011
Paint, batik fabric, steel nails, spray paint and MDF
250 x 60 x 10 cm

Yinka Shonibare, MBE (RA)

Alien Flag Drawing 1
, 2011
Paper, pen, batik, found paper and 22 carat gold leaf; framed
76.5 x 95 cm (framed size); 54 x 74 cm (image size)

Yinka Shonibare, MBE (RA)

Alien Flag Drawing 2
, 2011
Paper, pen, batik, found paper and 22 carat gold leaf; framed
76.5 x 95 cm (framed size); 54 x 74 cm (image size)

Yinka Shonibare, MBE (RA)

Alien Flag Drawing 3
, 2011
Paper, pen, batik, found paper and 22 carat gold leaf; framed
76.5 x 95 cm (framed size); 54 x 74 cm (image size)

Yinka Shonibare, MBE (RA)

Alien Flag Drawing 4
, 2011
Paper, pen, batik, found paper and 22 carat gold leaf; framed
76.5 x 95 cm (framed size); 54 x 74 cm (image size)

Yinka Shonibare, MBE (RA)

Alien Flag Drawing 5
, 2011
Paper, pen, batik, found paper and 22 carat gold leaf; framed
76.5 x 95 cm (framed size); 54 x 74 cm (image size)

Yinka Shonibare, MBE (RA)

Alien Flag Drawing 6
, 2011
Paper, pen, batik, found paper and 22 carat gold leaf; framed
76.5 x 95 cm (framed size); 54 x 74 cm (image size)

Yinka Shonibare, MBE (RA)

Alien Flag Drawing 7
, 2011
Paper, pen, batik, found paper and 22 carat gold leaf; framed
76.5 x 95 cm (framed size); 54 x 74 cm (image size)

Yinka Shonibare, MBE (RA)

Alien Flag Drawing 8
, 2011
Paper, pen, batik, found paper and 22 carat gold leaf; framed
76.5 x 95 cm (framed size); 54 x 74 cm (image size)

Yinka Shonibare, MBE (RA)

Alien Flag Drawing 9
, 2011
Paper, pen, batik, found paper and 22 carat gold leaf; framed
76.5 x 95 cm (framed size); 54 x 74 cm (image size)

Yinka Shonibare, MBE (RA)

Alien Flag Drawing 10
, 2011
Paper, pen, batik, found paper and 22 carat gold leaf; framed
76.5 x 95 cm (framed size); 54 x 74 cm (image size)

Yinka Shonibare, MBE (RA)

Alien Flag Drawing 11
, 2011
Paper, pen, batik, found paper and 22 carat gold leaf; framed
76.5 x 95 cm (framed size); 54 x 74 cm (image size)

Yinka Shonibare, MBE (RA)

Alien Flag Drawing 12
, 2011
Paper, pen, batik, found paper and 22 carat gold leaf; framed
76.5 x 95 cm (framed size); 54 x 74 cm (image size)

Yinka Shonibare, MBE (RA)

Alien Flag Drawing 13
, 2011
Paper, pen, batik, found paper and 22 carat gold leaf; framed
76.5 x 95 cm (framed size); 54 x 74 cm (image size)

Yinka Shonibare, MBE (RA)

Alien Flag Drawing 14
, 2011
Paper, pen, batik, found paper and 22 carat gold leaf; framed
76.5 x 95 cm (framed size); 54 x 74 cm (image size)

Yinka Shonibare, MBE (RA)

Alien Flag Drawing 15
, 2011
Paper, pen, batik, found paper and 22 carat gold leaf; framed
76.5 x 95 cm (framed size); 54 x 74 cm (image size)

Yinka Shonibare, MBE (RA)

Alien Flag Drawing 16
, 2011
Paper, pen, batik, found paper and 22 carat gold leaf; framed
76.5 x 95 cm (framed size); 54 x 74 cm (image size)

Yinka Shonibare, MBE (RA)

Alien Flag Drawing 17
, 2011
Paper, pen, batik, found paper and 22 carat gold leaf; framed
76.5 x 95 cm (framed size); 54 x 74 cm (image size)

Yinka Shonibare, MBE (RA)

Alien Flag Drawing 18
, 2011
Paper, pen, batik, found paper and 22 carat gold leaf; framed
76.5 x 95 cm (framed size); 54 x 74 cm (image size)

Yinka Shonibare, MBE (RA)

Alien Flag Drawing 19
, 2011
Paper, pen, batik, found paper and 22 carat gold leaf; framed
76.5 x 95 cm (framed size); 54 x 74 cm (image size)

Yinka Shonibare, MBE (RA)

Alien Flag Drawing 20
, 2011
Paper, pen, batik, found paper and 22 carat gold leaf; framed
76.5 x 95 cm (framed size); 54 x 74 cm (image size)

Yinka Shonibare, MBE (RA)

Alien Flag Drawing 21
, 2011
Paper, pen, batik, found paper and 22 carat gold leaf; framed
76.5 x 95 cm (framed size); 54 x 74 cm (image size)

Yinka Shonibare, MBE (RA)

Alien Flag Drawing 22
, 2011
Paper, pen, batik, found paper and 22 carat gold leaf; framed
76.5 x 95 cm (framed size); 54 x 74 cm (image size)

Yinka Shonibare, MBE (RA)

Alien Flag Drawing 23
, 2011
Paper, pen, batik, found paper and 22 carat gold leaf; framed
76.5 x 95 cm (framed size); 54 x 74 cm (image size)

Yinka Shonibare, MBE (RA)

Alien Flag Drawing 24
, 2011
Paper, pen, batik, found paper and 22 carat gold leaf; framed
76.5 x 95 cm (framed size); 54 x 74 cm (image size)