Originally created in 2009 in honor of the Newark Museum's Centennial, Party Time: Re-imagine America is a major site-specific installation by internationally acclaimed artist Yinka Shonibare MBE.
On view to coincide with the reinstallation of our Arts of Global Africa collection, Party Time is set in the mahogany-paneled dining room of the Ballantine House, built in 1885 for the prominent Newark brewing family Jeannette and John Holme Ballantine and part of the Museum's campus since 1937.
In this opulent interior, the artist has staged an imagined scene of a late nineteenth century dinner party midway through a multi-course feast. Eight headless figures, dressed in period costume made from the artist's signature "Dutch wax" fabric, are seated around an elaborately set table as a servant appears bearing the main course, a peacock served on a silver platter.
The animated body language of the guests suggests a moment in which proper Victorian etiquette has been cast away as an indulgent celebration of prosperity tips toward misbehavior and even debauchery. Referencing the discrepancy of wealth generated by turn-of-the-century enterprise, this scene of self-indulgence prompts comparison with our contemporary culture of greed and material excess.