Next year, Yinka Shonibare MBE will show a new work from his “Wind Sculpture” series near the southeast entrance of New York’s Central Park. Titled Wind Sculpture (SG) I, the British-Nigerian artist’s new piece has been commissioned by the Public Art Fund for Doris C. Freedman Plaza, where it will be on view from March 7 through October 14.
Like earlier pieces in the “Wind Sculptures” series, the sculpture resembles a large, billowing slice of fabric waving in the wind. Shonibare considers the 23-foot-tall Wind Sculpture (SG) I the beginning of a second generation of the series, the first generation having ended with Wind Sculpture VII, which is permanently installed outside the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C.
For Shonibare, the richly colored sculpture refers to designs on wax batik print. Similar designs often appeared to textiles that were imported from West Africa by the Dutch during the 18th century. These days, however, those fabrics are produced in the Netherlands and exported to Africa, and so the work becomes a meditation on the history of colonialism.
In a statement, Nicholas Baume, the director and chief curator of the Public Art Fund, said, “Monumental in scale and imposingly sited on axis with the entrance to Central Park, Yinka Shonibare’s Wind Sculpture (SG) I assumes the aspect of a classical civic monument. . . . Its patterned, fluttering sail suggests the geographical, cultural, and personal layers of a migration borne aloft on the cross currents of colonial history.”