Lauren Halsey’s work traverses time and cultures, but it always remains firmly rooted in her immediate community of South Central Los Angeles, where her family has lived for over a century. For her “Banner Project,” Halsey remixes signs, symbols, and Afrofuturist visions inspired by the visual vernacular of her neighborhood, including posters, advertising, and tags. She juxtaposes them with works from the ancient cultures of Egypt and Nubia that she selected from the MFA’s collection. She also takes inspiration from the aesthetic output of the 1970s, such as the Italian speculative architecture collective Superstudio and the music collective, Parliament-Funkadelic.
These banners are, in the words of the artist, “fantastical cartographies”—maps that trace heritage from the African continent to the contemporary Black and African-American diasporas in the United States.
Of her work Halsey says, “I want to compel folks and myself. . . . I want to compel dreaming, new aspirations, proposals for the future. . . . I’m interested in . . . making gorgeous black space for Black people . . . what I hope to be future spaces that are actually functional in a neighborhood as habitats. Not just representations of architectures as maquettes in an art gallery or museum but the everyday experience of living with it and in it.” Engaged in caring for and reimagining the social bonds in her community, Halsey sees these banners as blueprints to imagine new futures, both local and global, that celebrate and protect Black life.
This is part of an ongoing series of commissions that engages artists to create banners for the Museum’s Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art.
- Eunice and Julian Cohen Galleria (Gallery 265)