In The Black Fantastic Exhibition at The Hayward Gallery
Last week, we explored the In The Black Fantastic Exhibition at The Hayward Gallery, a spectacular and powerful exhibition bringing together 11 contemporary artists from the African diaspora. Science fiction, myth, spirituality and Afrofuturism are all mixed, reworked, and recontextualised to challenge our understanding of the world, and of Black identity.
Through the use of myths, new forms of possibility, and new fictions, this compelling collection of artworks challenges the boundaries within which Black people are typically confined. Curated by Ekow Eshun, the exhibition includes works by Nick Cave, Sedrick Chisom, Ellen Gallagher, Hew Locke, Wangechi Mutu, Rashaad Newsome, Chris Ofili, Tabita Rezaire, Cauleen Smith, Lina Iris Viktor and Kara Walker.
The exhibition is filled with paintings, photographs, videos, sculptures, and mixed-media installations, creating immersive sensory experiences that place the viewer somewhere between reality and imagination. Fantasy is used as a tool to address racism and social injustice, allowing visitors to imagine new ways of being in the world and achieving creative and cultural freedom through imagination.
It was profoundly moving and thought-provoking to see the different interpretations each artist brought to the exhibition. Using casts of his hand, Nick Cave created Chain Reaction, a series of linked hands holding each other. Initially, the installation appears to symbolise kinship and community, but upon closer inspection, it becomes apparent that each grasp is delicate and strained, representing both unity and struggle, and the fragile social position of Blackness.
In The Black Fantastic challenges racism and invites viewers to consider the black experience through the lens of black experience.