Image: Gentleman Walking a Tightrope
(London, England, 1962 - )

Gentleman Walking a Tightrope
, 2006

Mannequin, Dutch wax printed cotton textile, rope
89 1/2  x 122  x 45 1/4 in. (227.33  x 309.88  x 114.94 cm)
The Mary S. and Louis S. Myers Endowment Fund for Painting and Sculpture, Rory and Dedee O'Neil Acquisition Fund, The Richard and Alita Rogers Family Foundation, and Museum Acquisition Fund
The headless “gentleman” dons a Victorian-style European suit made from brightly patterned “Dutch wax” cotton fabric. Inspired by Indonesian batiks, Dutch Wax fabrics are manufactured in England and Holland and exported to Africa. The patterned fabrics are closely associated with African identity despite being made in Europe. In his unsteady position, Gentleman Walking a Tightrope illustrates the precarious balancing act the subject must perform in navigating a dual African-European identity. Born in England and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, Shonibare explores his own hybrid identity through colonial and post-colonial relationships between Europe and Africa.
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Online Collection paid for with a grant from
John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

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