Yinka Shonibare's work explores identity and post-colonialism within the contemporary conversation about globalization and identity. His Carriage Clock
is a wry commentary on the tangled interrelationship between Africa and Europe and the vestiges of empire.
Carriage clocks were invented in 1812 by Abraham-Louis Breguet, reputedly for Napoleon to take on his campaigns. They became a popular travel timepiece in the 19th century, paving the way for the development of the wristwatch in the late 1800’s. Shonibare's reimagining of the object transforms the carriage - which is based on the Queen's Irish State Coach - into a clock itself.
Looking through the window of its coach, viewers see both their own visage and the image of a working clock reflected back at them by a small mirror embedded in the interior. Inside the carriage sits a clock whose hands move in reverse; the time is only legible when read in the mirror across from it. The seats in the vehicle are upholstered in Shonibare's signature Dutch-wax printed fabric called batik. The textiles' complex origins and shifting significance refer to both a long history of international exchange and the fiction of cultural authenticity.