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Art21: First Look (11 of 20)
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This video is excerpted from the Season 5 episode Transformation premiering on Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 10pm (ET) on PBS (check local listings). Whether satirizing society or reinventing icons of literature, art history, and popular culture, the artists in Transformation—Paul McCarthy, Cindy Sherman, and Yinka Shonibare MBE—inhabit the characters they create and capture the sensibilities of our age. Yinka Shonibare MBE was born in 1962 in London, England, but grew up in Lagos, Nigeria; he lives and works in London. Known for using batik in costumed dioramas that explore race and colonialism, Yinka Shonibare MBE also employs painting, sculpture, photography, and film in work that disrupts and challenges our notions of cultural identity. Taking on the honorific MBE as part of his name in everyday use, Shonibare plays with the ambiguities and contradictions of his attitude toward the Establishment and its legacies of colonialism and class. In multimedia projects that reveal his passion for art history, literature, and philosophy, Shonibare provides a critical tour of Western civilization and its achievements and failures. At the same time, his sensitive use of his own foibles (vanity, for one) and challenges (physical disability) provide an autobiographical perspective through which to navigate the contradictory emotions and paradoxes of his examination of individual and political power.

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