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Behind the red moon (2023-24) El Anatsui. Tate Modern, Londres



"Each material has its properties, physical and even spiritual"

El Anatsui


Monumental instalación escultórica del artista ghanés El Anatsui (1944) que se está exponiendo, hasta el 14 de abril de 2024, en la sala de las turbinas de la TATE Modern en Londres.


El artista realiza sus obras a través de los desechos de miles de tapas de botellas de licor y otros objetos de uso cotidiano, realizando una obra artesanal donde cose uno a uno estos elementos, como si de una inmensa red de pesca se tratara. Luego los modifica plegándolos, arrugándolos o aplastándolos, consiguiendo enormes composiciones abstractas que son colgadas a modo de grandes velas desde lo alto de la sala, inundando y dialogando con el gigantesco espacio de aire. Líneas de colores, brillos, texturas y relieves. El artista dota a estos objetos banales, infravalorados que suelen terminar en la basura, de un aura poética, extrayendo todas sus cualidades compositivas y dotándoles de una historia íntima que explicar, nos susurran un relato.


A pesar de su monumental escala, el trabajo del artista se muestra flexible, adaptándose al cambio, mostrándonos un paisaje, una ruta por los colores... revelando las cualidades poéticas de los materiales.

Con la obra "Behind the red moon", El Anatsui nos pregunta y trae a debate conceptos tales como el comercio trasatlántico de bienes y personas, interrogando al espectador. La presencia de estas grandes telas es apabullante y sobrecogedora, haciéndote sentir minúsculo.


Sin duda la instalación del artista vuelve a poner a la sala de las turbinas y a la institución que la acoge (TATE) en el top de los lugares dónde el pensamiento contemporáneo se expresa en toda su potencia máxima.

El Anatsui nos propone un viaje íntimo, introspectivo en esta gran sala, una velas al viento que nos proponen un viaje de reflexión.


A continuación reproduzco los carteles con los que el artista y la institución nos explican la intervención escultórica, dividida en 3 actos, que nos vamos encontrando en la manera que transitamos la inmensa sala.






Act I THE RED MOON


The first hanging on the ramp resembles a majestic sail blowing out in the wind. Ships have transported people and good around the world since ancient times. During the trasalantic slave trade, enslaved African peoples were sold and exchanged for goldm sugarm spirits and other commodities. They were then taken across the ocean towards the Americans, with many labouring on sugar plantations that fuelled the alcahol industry. Later, spirits produced in the Caribbean would be shipped to Europe, and from there to Western Africa. The bottle tops used in this commission derive from expansive network of present-day commodities rooted in colonial industries.

This red and yellow sail might announce the beginning of one such journey across the unforgiving waters of the Atlantic Ocean. At the height if the transatlantic trade in the 18th century, sailors would sometimes use the moon to guide their journeys. Its gravitational tug as Earth's natural satelite also sets the rhythmof the ocean's tides. Here, red bottle tops from the outline of a red "blood" moon, seen during a lunar eclipse. Elemental forces interweare with human histories of power, oppression, dispersion and survival.





Act II THE WORLD


The scuplture in front of the Turbine Hall bridge is composed of multiple layers. The suggest a loose grouping of human figures, suspended in the air in a state of movement. When viewed from a particar position on the bridge, the fragmented shapes converge into a single circular from the Earth. The circle echoes the red moon of the sail as a fellow celestial body. Anatsui has a longstanding interest in the fragment as a symbol of renewal and restoration. He has said that "breaking is not destruction but a necessity for reforming"

As separate elements, the group of restless human forms might imply dispersion though the migration and movement of people across the globe, both forced and voluntary. When viewed together, the fragmentary circle gestures towards new formations of collective identities and experiences. Anatsui also plays with the tension between transparency and opacity. The ethereal appearence of the figures is achived using thin bottle top seals together to create a semi-transparent, net-like material.






Act III THE WALL


In this final act, a monumental black wall streches from floor to ceiling. Anatsui's interest is rooted in the ancient story of the earthen wall of Notsie (present-day Togo) Built by King Agokoli to confine and oppress his subjects, a revolutionary uprising by the Ewe's escape, as well as structures that constain and encircle. Anatsui also speaks of the productive quality of walls as 'an attempt to hide things. They provoke curiosity and curioity might get imagination out to the other side'.


Facing the yellow back of the sail , the wall might suggest an arrival at shore. Metal pools rise from the ground at the base of the wall, resembling crashing waves and rocky peaksm For Anatsui, the use of black refers ti the continent of Africa and its global diaspora, charged with the potential of homecoming in return. Moving behind the wall reveals an edifice of shimmering silver, covered in a multi-coloured mosaic. As lines and waves of blackness and technicolour meet, they echo the collision of global cultures and hybrid identities that Anatsui intites us to consider throughout the commission.

















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