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Zina Saro-Wiwa

The Invisible Man: Empty Bench


Zina Saro-Wiwa
Born in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, in 1976


The Invisible Man: Empty Bench




Ink sublimation on aluminum, 1/5


67.8 x 101.6 cm


Purchase, gifts of David Appel, W. Bruce C. Bailey, Erin Battat, Dax Dasilva and Lillian Mauer, inv. 2019.9


International Contemporary Art

Saro-Wiwa conceived The Invisible Man to fill the emotional gap which, in her mind, separates the spectators from the masquerade. The masks often represent animals that symbolize traditional secular stories, but the artist has chosen to use emotion to explore the cathartic and poetic possibilities of mask wearing. This work testifies to the gender dynamics in the culture of the masquerade. Although the latter are generally performed by men, the Invisible Man mask can also be worn by women. It was inspired by the Ogele style of masquerade found in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. The artist has opted for a Janus-faced mask, alluding to the men who have disappeared from her life, through death or otherwise. The black and white face represents the sadness of loss and the lined, pink face, the anger associated with abandonment.

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