John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, United States 01 Feb 2021 - 11 Jul 2021
Anthony Olubunmi Akinbola: Magic City installation view at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, 2021.
A large-scale installation conceived as a modern-day sanctuary, Anthony Olubunmi Akinbola’s Magic City explores the commodification of Black culture and the relationship between Africa and Black America through the lenses of fetishism and globalism.
The evocative nature of objects is at the core of Magic City. In Akinbola’s mystical space, mass-produced and readymade materials—specifically those with cultural currency in the Black community—are transformed into animistic power objects that communicate the complexities of identity. Durags replace oil paint as a medium for creating monumentally scaled action paintings; hundreds of stacked hair pomade cans become looming minimalist totems; and a Cadillac Escalade morphs into a pulsating sound sculpture.
By tracing the arc of fetishism from Africa to contemporary America, Magic City challenges perceptions of cultural and racialized identities in a globalized world by prompting us to question what makes an object “African,” “Black,” “White,” or “American.”
Anthony Olubunmi Akinbola is a Nigerian-American interdisciplinary artist who uses ready-made objects to investigate cultural rituals, connections, and the conflicts in the fashioning of identity. Akinbola has been included in solo and group exhibitions at venues including the Queens Museum, New York; the Museum of Arts and Design, New York; False Flag, New York; Zuckerman Museum of Art, Kennesaw, Georgia; and pt. 2 Gallery, Oakland, California. He has been a resident artist at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center, Snowmass, Colorado; DordtYart, Dordrecht, Netherlands; and Verbeke Foundation, Kemzeke, Belgium. He lives and works in Brooklyn.