(Time remaining: )
Play from beginning
El Anatsui in "Change"Preview
In this preview from the Art in the Twenty-First Century Season 6 episode, Change, artist El Anatsui discusses the use of bottle caps in his work, drawing connections with European trade across three continents.More information
Through the Art21 Translation Project, multilingual audiences from around the globe can contribute translations, making Art21 films more accessible worldwide.
Interested in showing this film in an exhibition or public screening? To license this video please visit Licensing & Reproduction.
El Anatsui’s sculptures are mutable in form, conceived to be so free and flexible that they can be shaped in any way and altered in appearance for each installation. Working with wood, clay, metal, and—most recently—the discarded metal caps of liquor bottles, Anatsui breaks with sculpture’s traditional adherence to forms of fixed shape while visually referencing the history of abstraction in African and European art. The colorful and densely patterned fields of the works assembled from discarded liquor-bottle caps also trace a broader story of colonial and postcolonial economic and cultural exchange in Africa, told in the history of cast-off materials. The sculptures in wood and ceramics introduce ideas about the function of objects (their destruction, transformation, and regeneration) in everyday life, and the role of language in deciphering visual symbols.