Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui is inspired by the several discarded bottle caps he finds near his studio in the Nigerian city of Nsukka, an abundant presence since they are not recycled by local distilleries as glass bottles are.
Using what most people would deem as garbage, Anatsui has used these forsaken elements to create delicate artworks; working with his team, he creates shimmering aluminium strips with the caps, linking them by hand using copper wire. These are combined to form metal fabrics that barely resemble their trivial origins. Created shortly before Anatsui garnered much international attention at the 2007 Venice Biennale, Nane comprises two surfaces with contrasting properties: a lower, semi-transparent expanse where small aluminium rings flow smoothly, and an upper area composed of heavier, flat aluminium pieces. The viewer can experience many different perspectives of the piece, which can lead to different interpretations. The implicit transformation carried by the piece is Nane’s most striking aspect. “The amazing thing about working with these metallic ‘fabrics’,” says Anatsui, “is that the poverty of the materials used in no way precludes the telling of rich and wonderful stories.”