As part of its 2018 ‘Ofrendas’ exhibition, the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) will be revealing a new acquisition, El Anatsui’s “Amemo (Mask of Humankind)” (2010) on loan from the Padma and Raj Vattikuti collection. The piece will be on display at the institute’s Great Hall for the next several years.
Anatsui created this monumental work using reclaimed aluminum liquor bottle caps recycled near his studio in Nigeria. He flattened the caps, molded them into circular forms, and strung them together with copper wire, creating patterns using the existing colors and designs of the bottle caps. For Anatsui, the artwork exists somewhere between painting, sculpture, and textile.
From a distance, this massive piece resembles a luxurious, glittering tapestry. DIA Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art Laurie Farrell purposely choose the Great Hall to display “Amemo” to place the work in conversation with the colorful ceiling and the armor on view in that space.