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Like his mentor El Anatsui, Eke recycles—or up cycles—discarded materials as part of his method. Eke’s work often concerns water, and in “Dark Voyage”he assembles recycled shoes to evoke the enslaved African souls that crossed the Atlantic to the Americas and had to assume new identities—assimilating into “western” cultures. At the same time, this works peaks to the issues of migration that are current in many parts of our world today, with immigrants traveling by foot and by water. The rubber employed in this installation is particularly noxious and not easy to recycle.
In Whitewash, the imprints on the soles of shoes reference the contributions or marks made by immigrants in nation building. Although immigrants have contributed immensely to the economic and social development of many societies, in most cases their contributions are rewarded with ingratitude,maltreatment, and outright denial.