The artwork created by El Anatsui that I am including in the imaginary museum is Tsia Tsia (2013) and Diaspora (2012).
Made for the Royal Academy in 2013 and displayed on the outside of the building, Tsia Tsia – Searching for Connection by El Anatsui is made up of nine panels that measure overall 15.6m by 25m and is made from his signature chain-mail of aluminium bottle tops, printing plates announcing births, deaths and marriages and discarded roofing sheets providing squares of vibrant colour woven together with copper wire which shimmer and gleam in the sunlight giving this piece a sense of vibrancy, akin to a curtain of light. It is only on closer inspection that you see the painstaking detail that has gone into stitching all these aluminium bottle tops together.
All the materials used are discarded items that can be easily viewed as litter, in fact the bottle tops have been collected from the streets. In transforming ordinary objects, that would normally be thrown away, Anatsui alludes to a sense of a life once lived in a different way. The piece also possess a textural freedom that cannot be replicated, suggesting a freedom from restraint and convention.
In an interview with Art News in 2015, Anatsui describes the relation he sees between the bottle tops and the history of Africa where Europeans would bring alcohol from the West Indies to trade for slaves. These drinks are now made locally in in Nigeria the bottle tops symbolize the historical connections between these two continents. Born in Ghana in 1944, El Anatsui now lives in Nigeria where he collects the materials to be included in his artwork.
The artwork Diaspora (2012), an edition of 35 plus 20 artist proofs by Anatsui is comprised on Archival dyes printed onto cotton and hand-stitched then fabricated by Dyenamix, New York.