As part of Singapore Art Week, a new site-specific work by Yinka Shonibare is on display at The Arts House, Singapore.
Justice For All is a monumental, immersive installation commissioned for the space. The piece re-appropriates and alters Lady Justice, the iconic sculpture by F.W.Pomeroy which stands atop the dome of the Old Bailey, the Central Criminal Court in London. Shonibare’s reinterpretation of the sculpture is a celebration of multiculturalism and a critique of British colonial power. The Court was the site of the first parliamentary session of the newly independent nation of Singapore in 1965. It was also the site of the Legislative Assembly and before that was used by British colonial powers as a courthouse.
Shonibare’s reworking of Lady Justice wears a bright ankle length garment in the artist’s signature bright patterned African batik fabric instead of the London statue’s golden robe. Her head is replaced by a hand-painted globe. The piece celebrates the history and character of Singapore and the island’s relationship with justice. “[...]Singapore itself is a very multi-cultural place. And I wanted a Justice figure that would be there to serve a wide range of the population; the different types of people in Singapore.” (Shonibare) The alteration of a well-known image and icon of power is a nod to the changing identity of the venue and, more broadly, the layers of change that arise from international exchange and migration and the complexity of heritage in a post-colonial world.
The exhibition of Justice For All is curated by Dr Zehra Jumabhoy of the Courtauld Institute of Art, London. It is presented by The Asian Art Institutum, The Arts House and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London, to coincide with Singapore Art Week and the Singapore Biennale 2019.
Justice For All can be seen at The Arts House, 1 Old Parliament Ln, Singapore 179429 until 30 January.