Nov. 16, 2022
From today, Kunsthal Rotterdam is showing the work “There Are Black People In The Future” by Alisha B. Wormsley on its façade. Following many different cities around the world, this powerful community artwork and billboard has now arrived in the Netherlands for the very first time, as part of the exhibition In the Black Fantastic. Just like that of the other contemporary, Black artists in the exhibition, Wormsley’s work is inspired by science fiction and Afrofuturism. Through this project, Wormsley critically examines the oppression of Black communities while at the same time encouraging Black people to claim their place.
In 2017, Wormsley placed the phrase on a billboard in the East Liberty neighbourhood in the American city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, an originally Black neighbourhood affected by gentrification. The subsequent removal of the work by the local authorities led to protests by members of the community. By way of thanks and in response to this show of support, Wormsley started raising funds for artists, activists, and social workers, in Pittsburgh and Houston, to come up with their own interpretations of the phrase. Since then, the billboard has been replicated in the American cities of Detroit, Charlotte, New York, Kansas, and Houston, and outside of the United States in London, Accra, and Qatar. And now, for the very first time in the Netherlands, in Rotterdam.
There Are Black People In The Future
Wormsley’s work is an ode to Afrofuturist writers and other makers who imagine a future that includes Black people, and furthermore shows that they themselves are responsible for shaping that future. In 2011, Wormsley started printing the phrase THERE ARE BLACK PEOPLE IN THE FUTURE on items she found in the Black neighbourhood of Homewood in Pittsburgh. And she has been using these words in various mediums – including video, installation, street art, and performance – ever since. ‘This archive of objects, histories and myths continues the diaspora’s apocalyptic narrative, and tells of a systematic effort to destroy Black communities throughout space and time. In the face of this oppression, saying something so obvious, writing it down, is reassuring. The words become magical, as fantastic as a prophecy: There Are Black People In The Future’, says Wormsley.
T-shirt for Sibyls Shrine
At the Kunsthal Shop, a T-shirt featuring the phrase is available for € 39.99. Part of the proceeds go directly to the project Sibyls Shrine: an artist’s collective and residency programme, founded by Wormsley, for Black women, womxn, trans women, and femmes who are m/others and identify as artists, creatives and activists in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and beyond.