Review of “Afrofuture” Exhibition by Yadira Capaz
The “Afrofuture” exhibition as curated by Ludlow Bailey was a long overdue, missing piece in Miami’s Design District. For a place that stands for the power of design to create the world anew, it is absolutely imperative that it hold a space for the imaginary of a myriad of cultures. No imaginary is as lively and keenly relevant to our contemporary moment as the cultural phenomenon of Afrofuturism. From Sun Ra more than 60 years ago to Rihanna just a couple months ago, the fascinating visuals and socially conscious ethos of Afrofuturism always bring a conversation worth having that inspires visitors, artists, and collectors alike.
Through “Afrofuture” Ludlow Bailey translated the essence of Afrofuturism into our local, contemporary context. What does a distillation of Afrofuturism’s principles look like in Miami today? This exhibition is an answer. The works themselves may not always feature spaceships and cyborgs, but by tapping into his visionary network of Miami- based artists from across the African Diaspora, Ludlow put their works in conversation with visions of our shared future.
There were plenty of golden reflections awaiting anyone who would pause to meditate on the work in relation to Afrofuturism. Asser Saint-Val’s surreal paintings pairing black bodies with marine organisms can stir some thoughts on our relation to the sea in an era of impending sea-level rise. Gene Tinnie’s faces hint at mystical awakenings in “New World,” and by gathering faces around the “Circle” she emphasizes the multiplicity of perspectives that are always present. In Jallim Eudovic’s geometric mahogany sculptures we observe an emphasis on what materiality can reveal, and the act of peeling the surface instructs us to investigate the truth underneath. “Afrofuture” was a show worth coming back to and sharing with friends to spur conversation.
The beauty and depth on display in “Afrofuture” was truly special, and even more so to have such a flourishing of local black contemporary artists in one place. May there may be more iterations of this pop-up exhibition to continue exploring the cultural importance of Afrofuturism, and the spectacular contributions of the African Diasporic imaginary! The Miami Design District definitely needs more of this.