I went up to Central Park on a recent Sunday to check out the latest Public Art Fund-sponsored large scale sculpture, which is Yinka Shonibare MBE’s Wind Sculpture (SG) I, installed on March 7th in the Doris C. Freedman Plaza. Unfortunately, and likely in an attempt to keep people from climbing on the monumental artwork, the park had grouped a number metal crowd barriers around the base of the sculpture on all sides, which seriously hindered my ability to get really great photos. Still, I did my best.
One of Britain’s best- known contemporary artists, Yinka Shonibare (b 1962, London) spent his childhood between England and Nigeria. He settled permanently in London in the early 1980s, where he attended art school. Shonibare regards himself as a cultural hybrid, a product of complex and layered relationships forged by centuries of global trade, migration, politics, and cultural exchange. His work reflects these currents in ways that often playfully invite us to look beyond appearances and assumption about identity.
Wind Sculpture (SG) I takes on the paradoxical task of manifesting the invisible. We can’t see the wind, but we do see its effects. Here, the dynamic movement of a piece of fabric in a gust of wind is rendered in solid fiberglass on monumental scale. Covered with an intricate pattern, the 23-foot-tall sculpture rises above the plaza, reminiscent of the untethered sail of a ship billowing in the breeze. Its unique, hand-painted pattern in turquoise, red, and orange — colors that the artist associates with his childhood on the beaches of Lagos — is inspired by Dutch wax batik print, which Shonibare has called the “perfect metaphor for multilayered identities.”
Wind Sculpture is the first work in a second generation — thus (SG)1 — of his celebrated series and continues Shonibare’s ongoing examination of the construction of cultural identity through the lens of colonialism. The work creates an opportunity to reflect on social issues associated with our current moment, including the movement of people and ideas across borders and the role of monuments in heterogeneous societies.
This sculpture is unbelievably gorgeous and looks different from every angle. Next time I am in the area I will see if the eyesore barriers are gone, and if so I will add new photos to the post!
Yinka Shonibare’s Wind Sculpture (SG) I Will Be On View Through October 14th, 2018 at Doris C. Freedman Plaza, Located at the Southeast Entrance to Central Park (5th Avenue and 60th Street), NYC.