Photo by Alex Bertland, 2009
“In his Victorian house in the East End here Yinka Shonibare, the British-Nigerian conceptual artist, perched on an exercise ball at the wooden table in his book-crammed study, sipping peppermint tea and examining a shipment of faux oysters on the half shell.
A stationary hand cycle sat beside him, an electric wheelchair across from him. One of Bob and Roberta Smith’s slogan paintings, ‘Duchamp stinks like a homeless person,’ hung above him, and a tuna on toast prepared by his housekeeper was sandwiched between a vase of yellow tulips and a stack of Dante volumes: Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso. . .
On that gray May day in the East End, Mr. Shonibare was trying to decompress after directing a weeklong photo shoot that involved 25 live snakes, 14 nude models, 6 pigs and 2 lamb’s heads. Inspired by Dante, Arthur Miller, Gustav Dore’ and the financial crisis, the shoot was a work in progress, ‘Willy Loman: The Rise and Fall,’ which seeks to depict what happens after the death of the salesman. (Hint: It’s hellish.)” [. . .] –Deborah Sontag, The New York Times, June 17, 2009
This Nike ad from a 1983 magazine shows Dante and Virgil in the Infernal circle of the Simonists, browsing for shoes.
Contributed by Dennis Looney