Renowned Filmmaker Susan Vogel Screens the Revealing Documentary Fold Crumple Crush: The Art of El Anatsui at the Clark

For Immediate Release

July 12, 2011

WILLIAMSTOWN, MA—Renowned filmmaker, curator, and African art expert Susan Vogel will screen her revealing documentary Fold Crumple Crush: The Art of El Anatsui at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute on Sunday, July 24 at 3:00 pm. Following the screening, Vogel will take the audience inside the creation of her film about the acclaimed contemporary artist El Anatsui, whose works are on view at Stone Hill Center through October 16. The lecture and film are free.

Filmed over three years in Venice, Italy, Nsukka, Nigeria, and the United States, Fold Crumple Crush is a powerful portrait of one of Africa’s most widely acclaimed contemporary artists. The film goes behind the scenes of the artist's practice, revealing the ingenious steps and thousands of hours of labor that convert used bottle tops into huge, opulent wall hangings. The artist explains how his artworks have become a marriage of painting and sculpture, objects that speak of African history but also reach for the ethereal—and he talks about his aspirations for works he has yet to make.

Behind the charming, easygoing artist we discover a man who remains mysterious even to his dearest friends. The film circles around Anatsui, drawing ever closer to a deep understanding of the man and his surprising bottle top hangings. We see the celebrated artist installing work on the great world stage of the Venice Biennale;  we follow him back to the small town of Nsukka as he goes about his daily life, then watch him inside the hive of his studio directing assistants as they stitch together bottle tops into a vast metal hanging. Finally, Anatsui admits us to the privacy of his home where he tells us about his formative years, and reveals a youthful discovery that clouded his life.

“For me, this  has been a dream project,” says filmmaker Susan Vogel, “blending my art historian’s understanding of Africa and African art with the skills I had been honing since I left film school at NYU’s Tisch School in 1999. El Anatsui, a friend I admired and I felt connected to, had become a star of the art world. Through the camera, I saw his artworks move in seductive ways, and make dramatic noises—his gorgeous, glittering sheets of bottle-tops were movie stars too.”

Susan Vogel has a PhD in art history and is internationally recognized as a curator and African art expert. She has held the positions of curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Founding Director of the Museum for African Art, Director of the Yale University Art Gallery, and Professor of Art History at Columbia. About her exhibitions, the New York Times recently said, "In the 1980s and '90s [they] revolutionized the way art, any art, could be exhibited. No one else has fully picked up that challenge since." Her last book, BAULE: African Art/Western Eyes, received the African Studies Association's highest honor for original research on Africa, the Herskovits Prize. Her body of work was recognized with the prestigious Leadership Award of the Arts Council of the African Studies Association. Vogel completed two years as a MFA student at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and became a filmmaker. This is her fifth documentary on African art and culture in distribution with Icarus Films through her production company, Prince Street Pictures.

The sculptor El Anatsui, born in Ghana in 1944, merges personal, local, and global concerns in his visual creations. Weaving together discarded aluminum tops from Nigerian liquor bottles, Anatsui creates large-scale sculptures called gawu (“metal” or “fashioned cloth” in the artist’s first language) that demonstrate a fascinating interplay of color, shape, and fluidity. For Anatsui, the bottle caps represent a link between Africa, Europe, and North America: “Alcohol was one of the commodities [Europeans] brought with them to exchange for goods in Africa,” he explains. “Eventually alcohol became one of the items used in the trans-Atlantic slave trade….I thought that the bottle caps had a strong reference to the history of Africa.” At the Clark, Anatsui’s colorful works bring their own architecture and logic into Tadao Ando’s Stone Hill Center, a building shaped around light and delicate transitions. These contemplative spaces provide an undistracted environment where one can experience Anatsui’s immersive sculptures and consider the stories they tell of consumerism, waste, and colonialism under the cloak of beauty. This exhibition was organized by the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute and was curated by David Breslin.

The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. The galleries are open daily in July and August, 10 am to 5 pm. Admission is $15 June 1 through October 31. Admission is free for children 18 and younger, members, and students with valid ID. For more information, call 413 458 2303 or visit clarkart.edu.

Calendar Listing

July 24: Renowned filmmaker, curator, and African art expert Susan Vogel will screen her revealing documentary Fold Crumple Crush: The Art of El Anatsui at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute on Sunday, July 24 at 3:00 pm. Following the screening, Vogel will take the audience inside the creation of her film about the acclaimed contemporary artist El Anatsui, whose works are on view at Stone Hill Center through October 16. The lecture and film are free. The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. The galleries are open daily in July and August, 10 am to 5 pm. Admission is $15 June 1 through October 31. Admission is free for children 18 and younger, members, and students with valid ID. For more information, call 413 458 2303 or visit clarkart.edu.

Contact: 
pr@clarkart.edu

-30-

Return to the previous page