Afrofuturism is a termed coined in the early 1990s. It engages visitors to peer into a hodgepodge of artifacts from the 17th century into the 21st century addressing themes and issues relating to African diaspora. The Afrofuturism Period Room is entitled “Before We Could Fly.” It contains an imaginative narrative inspired by Virginia Hamilton retellings of the Flying African tale combined with the inner appearance of the homes of Africans living in Seneca Village would have looked like before they were torn down and into present day if they were never demolished.
Seneca Village was a prosperous community of 50+ homes, churches, gardens and a safe domain away from the violence and poverty of lower Manhattan. It was considered to be a sanctuary and representation of freedom and property ownership during the 1850s. In 1857, Seneca Village was taken over and dispersed to make way for the building of Grand Central Park. This left all of the residents living there displaced and stripped away from the solace and hope they had while living there.
The myriad of artifacts used to create the Afrofuturism Period Room were borrowed from various collections throughout The Met. The diversity of objects include “Bamileke beadwork and 19th-century American ceramics to contemporary art and design that celebrates rich and diverse traditions.” There are also a variety of new artworks made specifically for the exhibition by artists such as Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Fabiola Jean-Louis, and Jenn Nkiru.
Some of the Afrofuturism Period Room objects on display include: Mido Chair (Jomo Tariku (Ethiopian American, b. 1969), Wooden Salt Box (1850), Batter Jug (1882 – 85), Crucifix and Power Statue Male Nkisi (Kongo), Glass Double Flasks (18th century), African-inspired Furniture (“Fire in the Hearth” Atang Tshikare), and many, many more.
This exhibition is a detailed and exploratory approach to engaging visitors to immerse themselves in thought-provoking and insightful commentary surrounding the central themes presented.
Visit The Met Exhibition Afrofuturism Period Room for a more detailed look and list of artifacts on display.