Written by Babacar M'Bow
The future is a site that does not exist yet, but one to be configured in a mental space. For the 2016 Annual Art Africa Miami, AFROTOPIA is a prospective thought. Thus, this 6th edition strives in the present-time to make it happen. AFROTOPIA is the atopos of the African Diaspora: that place not yet inhabited by a Diaspora to come. It is about investing in it through thought and imagination. The sequences that structure the temporality of African Diaspora societies is the future on which we can fully act upon, by conceiving and giving it a body. There is no historical fatality to which African Diaspora societies would be submitted to, as far as they conceive their future, have a vision of it and act in the present-time to transform our reality.
AFROTOPIA is a site in which, forms of upcoming articulations; individual and collective are drawn and configured.
The arts are the first site where the existential of the contemporary diasporic African is perhaps the best expressed --- its collective being and singular experience of individual destiny, but also its dreams and projections. The end of a “world” that segregation and colonialism constituted were grasped by writers such as James Baldwin and Chinua Achebe. The failures and disillusions of integration in the African Diaspora and independence on the continent and in the Caribbean, the quartering and ambiguity of consciousness torn between cultures, the shadows of the Police killing and clarity of Black Lives Matter; as well as the poetry of the real grasped through hip hop; these constitute existential challenges AFROTOPIA addresses.
The artists assembled in this 6th edition the various programs in the 2016 edition engage more intimate and personal questions, more existential ones: the quest for self, hybridity, individuality and interior freedom. Some want to oppose them to the previous generation which would have better expressed the vox populis and the soul of its community. It happens that independently from the option chosen by the ones or the others, whether political, social or intimate, their works have all expressed the individual and collective experiences of the African Diaspora; it is a question of decorum and perspective. The most personal questions still have the social context as background and, inversely, the social problematics have testified to the interior individual tensions. Some of the works presented in this 6th edition perfectly succeed at that setting in abyss of individual destinies, on a background of political and social history. They explore the manner in which to inhabit a plurality of worlds and to navigate between their banks; to unveil the shadow of the days to come and fixate the imaginary spaces in a hard and poetic aesthetic.
AFROTOPIA thinks the African Diaspora as site in which to erect our humanity with its shadows and lights but also interrogating new identity constructions on a background of memory, forgetting and reminiscences.
This 2016 Art Africa which poses an acute gaze on contemporary African Diaspora has something to say about the Diaspora in becoming and the world as we would want to see it. The combination of visual arts, fashion and style in the 2016 Art Africa then becomes spaces where the genius in creativity of forms by African Diaspora and their aptitudes to synthesis, recycling and remodeling express themselves in all their splendor.
AFROTOPIA is then that space of the possible that is yet to be realized but which nothing insurmountable impeaches the advent. The 2016 Art Africa will show that there is a continuity between the real and the possible; we only have to find where the latter hides; to think and work for the conditions of its materialization by lifting the obstacles; the limits are always mental.
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