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This interview-based introduction to installation art by Nigerian-British artist Yinka Shonibare highlights the history of cross-cultural translation woven into the very fabric of his signature material, Dutch wax print cloth. Originating in East Asian batik, which was copied by Dutch colonials then exported to markets in West and Central Africa, such textiles are misperceived as authentically “African,” yet the global circuits in which the fabric travels reveal that it does not carry one unitary meaning but instead acquires multiple inflections as it moves through different local cultural contexts. In his description of himself as a “postcolonial hybrid,” Shonibare’s playful tone registers a contrast with earlier practices in the critique of race and representation, although by remaking colonial-era garments such as the Victorian bustle with the fabric, he extends critical inquiry into cross-cultural entanglement among diverse identities brought into contact by hybrid modernity.

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