Episode #161: Filmed at his Nsukka, Nigeria studio in 2011, artist El Anatsui describes the collaborative and contemplative setting where his artworks are made. Anatsui employs a team of assistants to construct "blocks" of joined bottle caps that are then shifted around on the studio's floor. In looking at the patterns and textures created by this process, often through his digital photographs, Anatsui is able to form ideas for new work.
Working with wood, clay, metal, and the discarded metal caps of liquor bottles, El Anatsui breaks with sculpture’s traditional adherence to forms of fixed shape while visually referencing the history of abstraction in African and European art. Anatsui’s works trace a broader story of colonial and postcolonial economic and cultural exchange, told in the history of cast-off materials, while exploring ideas about the everyday function of objects and the role of language in deciphering visual symbols.
Learn more about El Anatsui at:
CREDITS: Producer: Ian Forster. Consulting Producer: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Interview: Susan Sollins. Camera: Calistus Eziokwu. Sound: Ian Forster. Editor: Morgan Riles. Artwork Courtesy: El Anatsui. Special Thanks: Jack Shainman Gallery. Theme Music: Peter Foley.