El Anatsui’s 2011 piece Stressed World was commissioned for an exhibition titled When I Last Wrote to You About Africa.(Image: Konnect Africa) Calixte Dakpogan specialises in creating figures and masks from plastic, iron, glass, copper, wood, and whatever else he can find. This 2002 piece is named La mort debout – Resuscitated.(Image: CAAC Art) La Bouche du Roi, by Romuald Hazoumé, is laid out to resemble a now-famous print of the British slave ship Brookes.(Image: Art Focus)MEDIA CONTACTS • Think Africa PressRELATED ARTICLES• Waste gives Such artistic inspiration• Recycled cricket gear creates jobs• Itlhabolole: beauty from waste• ConCourt art tells SA’s story• Recycled corks, safer communitiesSource: Craig Halliday via Think Africa PressAfrican artists have been recycling and re-using materials for hundreds of years. In Benin, a vast number of imported copper pans were recycled to cast various objects such as the Benin bronzes, while in Ghana the unravelling of imported foreign silks were used to increase the availability of thread colours for Kente cloth.Artists have long interrogated the significance of using different materials in art and for many the material chosen holds a crucial conceptual importance.Understanding this symbolic significance of a material requires an understanding of the context and environment in which the artist is working.Transformation through re-use, not recyclingOne artist with a love of raw materials is Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui. His work includes the re-use of woods and metals, which he gathers himself and transforms into sculptures.Working with whatever his environment throws up, Anatsui frequently makes use of discarded liquor tops. The liquor tops are cut up, flattened, arranged in a sequence and joined together with copper wire to create large cloth-like sculptures. The once rigid metals become flowing rhythmic representations of Ghanaian cloth, which portray particular Ghanaian symbols and representational values.There are good reasons for Anatsui’s choice of used liquor tops. The bottle tops’ malleability allows the artist to puncture holes through them, a quality unobtainable with discarded soda bottle tops.Furthermore, they refer to the historic ties of the alcohol trade between West Africa, Europe and America; to the pleasure of drinking or “building the stomach”, a common cultural turn of phrase; and they reflect the consumptive nature of society as a whole.El Anatsui does not recycle these bottle tops, but transforms them. And the connotations they carry become a part of the work itself – a commentary on his society, cultural history and environment.Material choice representing heritageCalixte Dakpogan of Benin is another artist who uses discarded materials. Dakpogan’s skilful manipulation of materials goes back to the time of an ancestor, who was a blacksmith at the 19th-century royal court of King Toffa, and the tradition has been passed down from father to son ever since.Dakpogan benefits from a seemingly inexhaustible abundance of car wrecks in his home town of Porto Novo, and other abandoned bits and pieces to make sculptural figures and masks.This allows him a great deal of symbolism on which to draw. The automobile is often seen as a symbol of power under the protection of Ogun – the Yoruba god of metal work – and Dakpogan’s sculptures also relate to the Fon statues from the early 19th century.Through his choice to use and transform these materials into relatable sculptural forms, Dakpogan’s artworks intentionally play with associations to his heritage and culture.In working with recovered materials, Dakpogan bestows a level of energy upon his sculptures which would be unobtainable if the artist used new materials. Whilst it is clear that the materials’ easy availability plays a role in their use, there is no doubt that Dakpogan’s choice of materials is based on aesthetics and artistic vision rather than necessity.Objects as metaphorsRomuald Hazoumé in Benin takes a slightly different approach in his used of discarded objects. He does not transform his objects per se, but re-uses them. An object used repetitively in his work is the petrol can, which implicitly draws reference to the black market petrol trade and its deeper social significance.With cheaper petrol prices in neighbouring Nigeria – until recently – the black market saw petrol flow easily, if illegally, across the border. The cans carried by black market transporters are worked to breaking point then discarded, something in which Hazoumé sees similarities with enslavement.He says, “Many people live in the same kind of conditions, bound to work their whole lives for rich bosses who use them without regard for their humanity, and who then throw them away, like refuse”.Hazoumé’s representation of slavery is most notable in the multimedia installation La Bouche du Roi (the mouth of the king) in which he uses dozens of petrol containers laid out to resemble an 18th century print of the British slave ship Brookes – this now notorious image was used by campaigners, led by William Wilberforce, against the transatlantic slave trade.The individual containers represent the people of Africa who were crammed together in the slave trade. The piece refers to the exportation of oil to the West with little in return, juxtaposing the historical image with that of the implement used to transport petrol. The used petrol cans act as a metaphor for slavery past and present.El Anatsui, Calixte Dakpogan and Romuald Hazoumé are just three examples of African artists with the ingenuity, creativity and contemplation to turn what others discard or see as junk into works of art. And, in doing so, creating dialogue about social, historical, and political realities.A material or use of material simply does not hold one value, connotation or significance; instead, any material holds a different value and characteristic depending on the context in which it is used. This is nowhere clearer than in African artists’ re-use of everyday bits and pieces.
(Adding details) Bangui (Central African Republic), Jun 19 (AFP) The Central African Republic (CAR) today said a diplomatic passport that tennis star Boris Becker claims entitles him to immunity in bankruptcy proceedings in Britain “is a fake”.”The diplomatic passport that he has is a fake,” foreign ministry chief of staff Cherubin Moroubama told AFP.The document’s serial number corresponded to one of a batch of “new passports that were stolen in 2014,” he said.In addition, the passport — a copy of which has been seen by AFP, and bears the date of March 19, 2018 — does not carry the signature or the stamp of the foreign minister, Charles Armel Doubane, Moroubama said.On Friday, lawyers for Germany’s three-time Wimbledon champion lodged a claim in the High Court in Britain saying that he had been appointed a sports attache for the CAR to the European Union (EU) in April. This, they argued, granted him immunity under the 1961 Vienna Diplomatic Convention on Diplomatic Relations from bankruptcy proceedings over failure to pay a long-standing debt.”Becker’s job profile does not exist” in the CAR’s records, Moroubama said.Furthermore, the passport says that Becker’s diplomatic function is “financial charge de mission”, a role that “has nothing to do with sporting questions”, he noted. In April, the 50-year-old former tennis star had tweeted a picture of himself shaking hands with CAR President Faustin-Archange Touadera at a meeting in Brussels. Becker shook up the tennis world at Wimbledon in 1985 when, as an unseeded player, he became the then youngest-ever male Grand Slam champion at the age of 17, defending the trophy the following year. The German went on to enjoy a glittering career and amassed more than $25 million (21.65 million euros) in prize money. (AFP) SCYSCYadvertisement
OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says it is “insulting” that President Donald Trump says Canada’s steel industry poses a national security risk to the United States.Speaking on NBC’s Sunday morning news show Meet the Press, Trudeau said he wants to make sure Americans, and more specifically Trump supporters, hear the message that they are going to feel financial strain and pain from the steel tariffs Trump imposed on Canada last week.“The fact that the president has moved forward with these tariffs is not just going to hurt Canadian jobs, it’s going to hurt U.S. jobs as well and neither of those things is something Canada wants to see,” Trudeau said.Trump imposed 25 per cent import duties on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum in early March, citing national security concerns about the impact those imported products were having on the American domestic industries. He exempted Canada, Mexico and the European Union pending additional talks to ease U.S. concerns.On Thursday the White House said the exemptions were being lifted because no satisfactory arrangement had been reached.But, Trudeau said, the idea the Americans would even muse that its closest friend and ally could be a security threat is ridiculous.“The idea that Canadian steel that’s in military vehicles in the United States, that makes your fighter jets is somehow now a threat … the idea that we are somehow a national security threat to the United States is quite frankly insulting and unacceptable,” Trudeau said.In the reports from the U.S. Department of Commerce on the steel and aluminum national security investigations, the American concerns have little to do with fears that Canada or Canadian steel directly pose a threat. Instead, they argue, the increase in foreign imports has shut down U.S. steel and aluminum plants, leaving the U.S. industry at risk of becoming unsustainable.If the U.S. cannot produce enough steel or aluminum to meet basic national defence requirements, the reports suggest, it is a national security threat.The documents also discuss concerns about the impact on national security from economic threats and unemployment. They cite a 35 per cent drop in steel industry jobs in America over the last 20 years as foreign steel displaced U.S. production and a 58 per cent drop in aluminum production jobs between 2013 and 2016.Trudeau added that he does not know what Trump wants Canada to do in order to remove the tariffs, because the U.S. actually exports more steel to Canada than Canada sends to the U.S., and when it comes to oversupply from China, Canada is on the same page as Trump.Canada recently instigated an anti-dumping investigation on Chinese steel, and in March introduced greater powers for Canada customs agents to search for steel products attempting to dodge duties with various measures like incorrect labelling or slight modifications.Pushing back against the American tariffs, Canada laid out more than $16 billion in retaliatory tariffs, matching the steel and aluminum tariffs and adding in an array of consumer goods from toilet paper to orange juice to playing cards and ball point pens.Trudeau said the goods Canada picked are those that can be easily sourced from domestic or other international suppliers. However they also target exports from states of significant American political leaders, such as gherkins and yogurt from House Speaker Paul Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin, and bourbon from Senate Leader Mitch McConnell’s state of Kentucky.Both Ryan and McConnell were publicly critical of Trump’s tariffs in recent days. In addition to the costs to exporters of consumer goods like pickles and chocolate, the steel tariffs will hurt American automakers by pumping up the cost of steel.The European Union is looking at similar retaliation, going after whisky, jeans and iconic American Harley Davidson motorcycles.For his part Trump seems nonplussed by Trudeau’s tariffs.“When you’re almost 800 billion dollars a year down on Trade, you can’t lose a Trade War,” he tweeted Saturday. “The U.S. has been ripped off by other countries for years on Trade, time to get smart.”White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Fox News Sunday that Trudeau was “overreacting” and that the White House is not yet satisfied that Canada has closed trade loopholes on steel and aluminum.European Union Trade Commissioner Cecelia Malmstrom said Trump’s steel tariffs have nothing to do with national security and called them “pure protectionism.”One Canadian insider said traditionally, Canada was too small for retaliatory trade action against the U.S. to have an impact, but Trump has gone after so many countries at once that the pushback globally is big enough to have an impact on the American economy.Next week’s G7 leaders’ summit, which had been expected to be a six-against-Trump event anyway, now has an even bigger storm cloud lingering over it.Trudeau said the main goal for the meeting was to discuss how trade can ensure inclusion and growth for everyone, but said all the G7 leaders are concerned with Trump’s idea that trade is a war that must have winners and losers. He said he will be having a “frank conversation” with the president about the situation.“We’re going to be polite but we’re not going to be pushed around,” he said.Trudeau will start the week off with a series of meetings that are likely to focus on the tariff issue. The Liberals have scheduled a cabinet meeting for Monday morning, after which the prime minister will meet with representatives of the Canadian Steel Producers Association.
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