“Future is already here but it hasn’t been distributed equally.” —William Gibson
Metropolises are shapeshifting. In Where Paradise Grows, curated by Ingrid LaFleur, the causes are being investigated. Inspired by the transformation that is occurring in both Detroit and Johannesburg, the title explores the idea of utopia while investigating its construction and at whose expense through the work of artist collective Complex Movements.
Detroit-based Complex Movements combines the collective talents of visual artist Wesley Taylor; lyricist and activist Invincible; creative technologist Carlos Garcia; music producer Waajeed, in collaboration with architect Aaron Jones. Together they create an alternate reality that analyzes present-day issues. Believing creative imagination is necessary in constructing the future, Complex Movements asks who is allowed to speculate about the future; how do we make sure marginalized communities are at the center of the discussion of envisioning a future? The process for which to reclaim this agency is dissected in their science fiction parable “Beware of the Dandelions,” a post-apocalyptic parallel universe where hubs of resources are controlled by the elite few and the workers who provide the resources are limited in their abilities to survive. The parable is translated into a visual and aural experience that examines methods of creating change using complex science as inspiration.
In Where Paradise Grows, Complex Movements invites viewers to think more deeply about their own communities by using creative technology and hip hop aesthetics to re-imagine resistance. Complex Movements focuses on examples that decentralize power dynamics. Their commitment to using creative imagination to engage and encourage social transformation came from long-time Detroit activist Grace Lee Boggs, who has looked to quantum physics to form a new model for revolution.
The title of this exhibition, Where Paradise Grows, uses the Asian Paradise Tree, a invasive non-indigenous flora of Detroit, as a metaphor to discuss contemporary colonization within Detroit. Where Paradise Grows is part of the larger project AFROTOPIA that uses Afrofuturism as a tool for transformative education. The exhibition will be on view in Johannesburg, South Africa at Goethe on Main.