Yinka Shonibare CBE at Art Basel Miami Beach
Moving Up

James Cohan, New York / USA

November 30–December 4, 2021
November 23, 2021
Art Basel Miami Beach
Miami Beach Convention Center
1901 Convention Center Drive
Miami Beach, Florida 33139


For the Meridians sector of Art Basel Miami Beach 2021, James Cohan is pleased to present Moving Up, a solo project by Yinka Shonibare CBE. This large-scale sculptural installation builds on Shonibare’s interest in American history and its unique ties to colonialism and diasporic identity formation by exploring the Great Migration—the decades-long exodus of six million Black Americans from the rural South to cities in the North, Midwest, and West from 1916 to 1970. Moving Up will be on view at the Miami Beach Convention Center from November 30 to December 4, 2021.

The work consists of three figures carrying their worldly possessions in bags, suitcases, and nets as they climb a grand staircase, a metaphor for their upward movement geographically, economically, and socially. Each figure dons 19th-century attire made from the artist’s signature Dutch Wax fabric. Shonibare is well-known for his use of these textiles as a symbol of the contradictions and complexities of cultural origins. The figures’ period costumes allude to the Victorian Era, the zenith of the colonial period when the foundations of the sharecropping system and Jim Crow—the instruments of suppression for Black Americans in the South—were laid.

Shonibare says of the installation, "Moving Up captures the bravery of migrating Black Americans seeking a new place within public life in the cities of the North and West. While the migration resulted from inhumane living conditions, structural racism, and labour exploitation, it brought forth a new era of African-American self-assertion within American society. The persistence, endurance, and dedication of this generation shaped the contemporary American social, economic, and cultural landscape."

Yinka Shonibare CBE RA (born 1962 in London, UK) is a member of the "Young British Artists" generation who first came to prominence in the late 1990s. His works have been featured in Documenta11 (2002) and the 52nd Venice Biennale (2007). In recent years, Shonibare has been the subject of solo exhibitions at institutions including Museum der Moderne Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria (2021); M WOODS, Beijing, China (2020); Arts House, Singapore (2020); Speed Art Museum, Louisville, KY (2019); Fukuoka Art Museum, Fukuoka, Japan (2019); Driehaus Museum, Chicago, IL (2019); Norval Foundation, Cape Town, SA (2019); and Davidson College, Davidson, NC (2018). Shonibare’s The British Library was recently acquired by the Tate London, where it remains on long term display. His works are included in notable collections internationally, including the Tate Collection, London; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C; Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome; Pérez Art Museum Miami, FL and VandenBroek Foundation, The Netherlands.