On June 29, the Hayward Gallery in London hosted the opening of the highly anticipated new exhibition “In the Black Fantastic.” Curated by Ekow Eshun, the writer, broadcaster, and chair of the Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group, it is the U.K.’s first exhibition dedicated to the work of Black artists who use the realm of the fantastical—including mythology, folklore, spiritual traditions, science fiction, and Afrofuturism—to explore racial injustices and identity. In Eshun’s own words, it’s “a way of acknowledging, a way of looking at the racialized everyday beyond the constraints that the Western imaginary has put around Black beings, Black personhood, and Black experiences.” He continues: “In a world where we are constantly, as Black people, subject to the fantasies and myths of others, one of the ways through for us is to embrace the fantastic. Not as an escape from reality, but as a way to explore further the possibilities and the imaginative reaches of our own experience of being. Essentially, ‘In the Black Fantastic’ is about saying there is no finite criteria or barrier to what being Black looks like.”
Below, the five things you need to know about what’s already being hailed as a landmark show.