Hover II
Average: 4 (1 vote)
rzarlif's picture


All that glitters is…flattened bottle caps? Ghanaians and Nigerians are inspired up-cyclers. Just look at Hover II.

It’s a shimmering tapestry-sculpture of thousands of aluminum caps that once sealed spirits like Scotch, rum, and other happy-drink, in their bottles. It is all sewn together with many hundreds of meters of copper wire.

It’s seriously big and flows. Hover II is shape-shifting sculpture that changes depending on how it’s displayed. Very cool, but it creates a few problems. Anatsui sends his metallic works to museums and galleries without any instructions on how to hang them, or even if they should be hung at all! He only insists they should be draped to create a shape (it's more of a sculpture than a tapestry, kinda). Art museums, Anatsui complains, have a surprising number of not-very creative people. And curators the world over must be thinking, "I wish this guy would just tell us what to do, like a normal artist."

Get close to the piece and it’s like being in a liquor store in Nigeria, where Anatsui lives and works. The offerings from local distilleries are stamped on the flattened caps…Chairman, Dark Sailor, King Solomon, Makossa, 007, Top Squad and Ecomog (named after the multilateral, though largely Nigerian, armed force established in 1990 to intervene in the Liberian civil war).

Anatsui is reserved and, according to a friend, a completely unremarkable guy. He is eloquent about his work however. He says what’s amazing "about working with these metallic fabrics is that the poverty of the materials used in no way precludes the telling of rich and wonderful stories." In the case of large metal tapestry-sculptures like Hover II he says, "...the story "encapsulate[s] the essence of the alcoholic drinks which were brought to Africa by Europeans as trade items at the time of the earliest contact between the two peoples." That is, the booze traded for gold and slaves. Yep, the man is political in his own subtle way.

There are a number of YouTube interviews in which he explains how to get all those damn liquor bottle caps flattened out and wired together, and the thousands of hours of work involved. Fold Crumple Crush is a full-on one hour movie, filmed over three years in Venice, Nsukka, and the United States, which gives a great portrait of "Africa’s most widely acclaimed contemporary artist, El Anatsui."