How the Nigerian-British artist makes poignant statements about status & subversion
In his piece Diary of A Victorian Dandy, Yinka Shonibare subverts his role as an outsider as a Nigerian-British and disabled artist, by figuring himself as the centre of attention at a party with wealthy Victorians. Empire was booming during Queen Victoria’s reign, and with Africans on the continent being subjected to British Imperial rule, you can imagine just how unlikely this scene would have actually been at the time. (Though that’s not to say there weren’t any free Africans in Britain at the time – check out this portrait from 1844…) The portraits of wealthy and supposedly respectable figures in the background of Yinka’s piece add more weight to his subversive position as the recipient of such admiration.
What might a poetic response to this photo be, and how could you reflect the subversive elements of the photo in your language?
Write a poem in the voice of Yinka’s character – OR that of one of his admirers from the photo.