University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, England, 1963-72
(Kenneth Capon of Architects’ Co-Partnership)
MAT-BUILDING. Frankfurt. Berlín. Venecia. Kuwait. Valencia
Counting down to the exhibition opening…
Yinka Shonibare, Headless Man Trying To Drink, 2005
From the National Museum of African Art:
This sculpture presents an incongruous situation—a man who is headless trying to drink from a water fountain. The absurdity of this scenario is reinforced by the patterning of the man’s costume, which features the doubled motif of an abundantly flowing tap and water glass. His elegantly tailored late Victorian costume suggests he is someone of note—a well-to-do gentleman of colorful taste. Jaunty red trousers and green bows on his patent leather shoes lend a foppish note to the figure and extend Shonibare’s longstanding interest in the notion of the “dandy.”
Shonibare typically presents his sculptural figures minus their heads. In doing so, he makes playful reference to the French Revolution and the beheading of members of the ruling elite. The absence of heads also removes references to individual or racial identity in his figures.
The man’s inability to drink from the tap is particularly ironic in the present era. Water shortages, drought and climatic shifts have affected various parts of the world; and leading environmentalist David Suzuki, for one, proposes that the world’s future wars will be fought over water, not land. This work is Shonibare’s only “animated” sculpture to date, featuring a water pump and running water.
Maude Adams as Joan of Arc (1909) by Mucha
Arata Isozaki - Cluster in the Air - 1961