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1000 WORDS: YINKA SHONIBARE

King Gustav III of Sweden (1746–1792), who waged and won a war against Russia, was a keen amateur actor and a figure of ambiguous sexuality. That a masked ball at the Royal Opera served as the scene for his death by an assassin’s hand gave his demise an appropriately symbolic twist. Yinka Shonibare’s first film, Un Ballo in Maschera, 2004, a coproduction by Swedish Television and the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, is a choreography based on the king’s assassination, featuring thirty dancers attired in Shonibare’s trademark pseudo-African batik. Filmed at Confidencen, a private theater previously owned by Gustav’s mother, the mannequins from his installations (or so it seems) come alive for a candlelit carnival in a Rococo parlor. Challenging conventions of narrative, gender, and costume, Shonibare conceived the film as, in his words, a “constant, dreamlike movement between reality and

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