Midsommar – Group Show

Bode, Berlin, Germany
08 Jun 2024 - 04 Aug 2024

Anthony Akinbola
161 St - Yankee Stadium (detail), 2024
Durags on wooden panel
152.4 x 152.4 cm
60 x 60 in

Anthony Akinbola 161 St - Yankee Stadium (detail), 2024 Durags on wooden panel 152.4 x 152.4 cm 60 x 60 in

Bode presents Midsommar, a group exhibition with Anthony Akinbola, Alteronce Gumby, and Tariku Shiferaw, celebrating the work of three New York-based contemporary artists throughout a very special time of the year.

The Midsummer Day, known as the summer solstice festivities, is a celebration of the longest day of the year, rooted in ancient traditions. In Scandinavia it’s the time when the midnight sun illuminates the night, so it never gets entirely dark. The sun takes a reddish-yellow color, and everything around is bathed in warm brightness and light. The artists’ interpretation of a night sky with its unique constellations of colors is inspired by the magical time of Midsommar.

Tariku Shiferaw‘s Mata Semay series (Amharic for night sky) represents imagined versions of the night sky, evoking the mystical essence of the cosmos. The artist addresses the erasure of Black contribution to society, imagining what the constellations would look like if we honored the symbols and stories of pre-European communities – African and diasporic cultures – that have mapped the night sky for millennia. Thus the artist creates a new collective mythology, addressing the concept of marking and erasure within social constructs. With his fluorescent and chromatic spectrum of iridescent color, Alteronce Gumby expands the notions through which we perceive both the subjectivity of identity, and the materiality on earth and in cosmic space. Challenging the reception of the viewer, Gumby pushes the boundaries of color and form through their intricate web of layers of darkness and light, reflection and interference. The conceptual ready-made fabric works by Anthony Akinbola goes back to the tradition of the durag, which has gained visibility outside of Black culture with the ascendance of hip-hop and rap in the 1990s. By detaching the durag from the wearer, the artist rethinks our presumptions about this piece of cloth and debunks the prejudices about its owner. Being originally totally black, durags in Akinbola’s works are presented in a wide spectrum of colors, like the night sky during the Midsummer season, which is suddenly streaked with light, taking on millions of shades and tones.

Together, the artists of the exhibition invite us to expand the horizons of perception and break the traditional frameworks of thinking of color, e.g. black does not necessarily mean black – just like the night sky during the Midsommar season.