Smithsonian Sparks

Why artist Batoul S’Himi converted a pressure cooker into a global statement

September 27, 2021
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Red pressure cooker with image of a world map carved in the side

Batoul S’Himi, Untitled, from the series “World Under Pressure,” 2011, aluminum, Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art, museum purchase, 2014-15-1

Batoul S’Himi has converted cookware to take a domestic and local space—the kitchen or hearth—and situate it within a global picture.

In her untitled 2011 sculpture from the series "World Under Pressure," the pressure cooker draws attention to the underwhelming representation of women and women’s issues on a global level. It’s also alluding to the mounting pressure for change.

This piece is in the collection of Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art and included in "I Am… Contemporary Women Artists of Africa," on view through 2022. The exhibition draws on the museum’s permanent collection to offer an inclusive vision of women making art in relation to the compelling issues that have defined these artists’ times.

The exhibition is one outcome of a museum initiative launched in 2012 to increase the profile of African women in the arts through exhibitions, publications, acquisitions and strategic partnerships. Since then, the number of women artists in the museum’s permanent collection has increased from 11 to 22 percent.