On March 22nd I went to see Fold, Crumple, Crush: The Art of El Anatsui, a documentary in the environmental film festival in Washington, DC directed by Susan Vogel.  The documentary follows the life and artwork of El Anatsui, a sculptor, originally from Ghana, who is a self proclaimed “found-object artist”.  This means that Anatsui uses everyday objects, even trash, to create his widely acclaimed masterpieces. The film takes place in Venice, Italy, Nsukka, Nigeria and the United States.  The film allows you to see inside the mind of the artists while he dreams, creates, and constructs converting things that we wouldn’t necessarily see as beautiful into absolutely spectacular works of art.  Anatsui particularly described in the documentary the way in which he combines both painting and sculpture to create his own unique art form. He uses his African background to give his pieces emotion but looks towards his dreams to really make them art.  This documentary is meant for not only people who are interested in preserving the environment but also people who appreciate art and heritage.  El Anatsui is a real man who chose to make art his life; he is an inspiration to those trying to do anything that may not seem attainable. 

The film’s structure was chronological and clean and used storytelling skills to illustrate the life and work of El Anatsui.  In the documentary, Vogel uses camera angles starting from the bottom of pieces and panning towards to top to capture the grand scale of Anatsui’s massive works of art.  This is shown most clearly when Anatsui’s art is pictured draped over a building in Venice.  The sound in the film was soft and almost ethereal, Anatsui’s voice and the telling of his own story was intriguing and interesting and the background music complemented this perfectly.  Throughout the film Anatsui is shown walking through the landscapes in which he is working on his art to gain inspiration; these scenes became the glue that held the separate parts of the film together.

Anatsui described his philosophy of art by saying “anything that has been touched {bottle caps, metal scraps, art] give off a specific charge.  Doing the art from these objects is a way you connect to the people who touched [the items before] it”.  This documentary serves to give an intimate look at the life and thought process of an artist that is recognized around the world and to inspire others to do the same.  He takes an original approach at a process as old as time and makes it completely his own.

Personally I really enjoyed the film.  It kept me interested the entire time and i was newly amazed by each piece of Anatsui’s work that was shown.  He is a truly inspirational man and his philosophy behind his work is revolutionary.  I knew very little about what this film would be about before seeing it.  I looked up some of Anatsui’s work and was amazed by the beauty and scale that he was able to create out of such mundane items.  I went into the film expecting to learn about his work and was presently surprised to find out that Anatsui was so incredibly humble and had such love for his work.  It is also wonderful to see a successful, seasoned artist who breaks the “tortured soul” mold.  Anatsui is a clear-eyed and clear-headed individual with a passion for what he does.

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