Art historian Hal Foster’s once theorized that by “confronting the archive, new systems of knowledge can be created.” Future Antebellum, explores a world where the constructs and intervening variables of our collective black consciousness are dismantled and declared a fallacy in a not-so-distant future. You, the viewer, are in the present, living in the era leading up to a collective ‘black apostasy’, a complete and total divestment in the notions, beliefs and ideals founded after Emancipation.
This future African diasporan society tries reshapes the past, our present day, to define a new, yet anachronistic vision of self. Hashtags become legend and folklore. Lifestyle becomes culture and distorted self-image is the only constant. ‘Selfie culture’ evolves into psychosis, a form of hyper self-awareness, every moment is now theatrical and camera ready, even when one is not present. And although many achieve the deepest, blackest melanated selves through body makeup, pigmentocracy reverberates within the newly minted black aristocracy. What thrives and flourishes is black womanhood and feminism, it is the root that has nourished a nation from its inception, and continues to do so, ad infinitum. What we have in the gallery are portraits from this future - those who invested in our wildest dreams, survive in a country on the edge of a second Civil War, enslavement,
disillusionment, literal peace remains elusive, peace of mind is non-existent.
These images are an examination of the deeply rooted connections to black imagery from the Renaissance (and before), colonial-rooted tropes, to contemporary advertising. They are meant to challenge our ease in accepting forms of ‘ornamental blackness’ within the canon of western art history manifests within contemporary African diasporan art. This exhibition initiates a view of the spatial, paradoxical relationship of black people within different points of time, providing both a landscape for reality and fantasy, yet neither leads one to solve any empirical questions about the current state of blackness. This work is not a mirror into our souls, nor is it an homage to current ideas of perfection and beauty. It is a clarion call to observe our trajectory.