Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The most expensive piece of recycled art?

Healer, by Ghanaian sculpture El Anatsui

Above Healer by the Ghanaian sculpture El Anatsui, which is made of thousands of gin and whiskey bottle tops, brought some relief in a difficult financial climate when it sold above estimate for £290,000 at Sotheby's contemporary art sale on October 17th.

When local distilleries in Nigeria recycle each other's bottles, the screw caps associated with each brand are discarded in the process. By collecting these materials, and laboriously sewing them together with copper wire, Anatsui’s transformative process aims to "subvert the stereotype of metal as a stiff, rigid medium and rather showing it as a soft, pliable, almost sensuous material capable of attaining immense dimensions and being adapted to specific spaces" (Anatsui 2005).

Throughout a distinguished forty-year career as a sculptor and professor, Anatsui has addressed a vast range of social, political and historical concerns, and embraced an equally diverse vocabulary of media and process. Using anything from chainsaws and welding torches to this intricate and meditative 'sewing' process, he has shaped materials ranging from cassava graters and railway sleepers to driftwood, iron nails and obituary notice printing plates.

October Gallery

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