Awol Erizku Unfurls the Tapestry of Black Visual Culture with Mystic Parallax at the Momentary 

Above: Awol Erizku, Ask the Dust, Rolling Stones.

The Momentary today announced that Awol Erizku: Mystic Parallax will open to the public on May 25, 2024. The exhibition, a tremendous examination of Blackness and contemporary global culture, will feature a series of photographs, paintings, sculptures, installations, and even soundscape interventions by multidisciplinary artist Awol Erizku.  

Through Mystic Parallax, Erizku – known for using music, popular culture, and sports symbolism to create works that represent a uniquely Afrocentric aesthetic – offers an alternative to the Western gaze. The exhibition will feature a six-foot mirrored bust of Nefertiti casting a galaxy of shimmering light from the ceiling; an epic 75-foot collage wall displaying a mixture of iconic works, deep cuts, and never-before-seen photos from the artist’s career; and a new installation titled Celestial Bloomwhich features a real Cessna 150 airplane, suspended in the air and overflowing with brilliant bursts of flowers streaming out of the cockpit and trailing off the tail of the plane. 

Mystic Parallax is not confined by a specific medium; instead, Erizku embraces fluidity and improvisation within the exhibition, employing an ever-growing catalogue of motifs – layering, combining, and reinventing them. While photographs represent just one facet of the artist’s creative output, they serve as a space where his ideas take shape. Whether adorning his studio walls or re-envisioned in new contexts, these clusters of images offer windows into Erizku’s evolving thoughts.  

“My focus extends beyond mere preoccupation with art history; it’s deeply intertwined with my vision for cultural evolution,” said Erizku. “This line of thinking often leads me back to music. When I began drawing connections and creating imagery inspired by lyrics or subcultures, it stemmed from a place of reverence and deep understanding of their essence. I make a concerted effort to elevate these influences, honoring their significance while pushing boundaries.”  

The “parallax effect” describes the apparent visual discrepancies that are observed when viewing an object from different vantage points. The exhibition, which is on view throughOctober 13, extends this concept of differing perspectives to ideas, history, and the multiplicity of global culture. No single narrative dominates this show. Instead Erizku provides interconnected webs of artworks that cut across time and cultural boundaries to set viewers up to ask questions, join in dialogue, and search for solutions.   

Awol Erizku: Mystic Parallax is accompanied by the artist’s monograph, co-published by the Momentary and Aperture. The exhibition is curated by Sarah Meister, executive director at Aperture; Alejo Benedetti, curator of contemporary art at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the Momentary; and Elise Raborg, curatorial associate of contemporary art at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the Momentary. 

Mystic Parallax is on view at the Momentary from May 25 through October 13, 2024. The exhibition is free and open to the public.  

To celebrate the exhibition’s opening, Awol Erizku will perform a special DJ set with Kitty Ca$h at the afterparty for the Momentary’s John Legend concert on June 1. The day will feature a stacked lineup of free events for community members to enjoy, including a Secondhand Smoke NWA pop-up with Chef Nate Walls, a book signing with Erizku in the Momentary’s gift shop, a film screening of “SERENDIPITY” directed by Erizku, the CB to You Mobile Art Lab, a flower activation, selfie station, and more. 

For more information, visit the Momentary’s website.  

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