WGSN’s STEPIC methodology for trend forecasting includes looking at culture and creativity. So this week we explore Black culture, experience and identity.
Our guest for this episode is British writer, curator and broadcaster Ekow Eshun, who has been described as a “cultural polymath” by the Guardian. He is chairman of the Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group, overseeing the most prestigious public art programme in the UK, and the former director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London.
Eshun is also the author of critically lauded books Black Gold of the Sun, Africa State of Mind and, most recently, In the Black Fantastic. His new exhibition of the same name is now showing at London’s Hayward Gallery (until 18 Sept 2022) and has opened to rave reviews, there is also an accompanying book (published by Thames & Hudson).
Together with co-hosts Sam Boakye, WGSN Business Development Manager, and Melanie Larsen, WGSN Insight Strategist, we explore themes of the black fantastic vs afrofuturism, the power of speculative film and fiction, the relevance of artists from Chris Ofili to Beyonce in expressing the Black experience and the concept of double consciousness.
The black fantastic
“Black fantastic is a territory within which Black artists are articulating and offering their own fictions about Black presence, and are trying to look beyond some of the ways that Black people have historically been confined or constrained. Our Western imagination characterises us sometimes as other, as alien, as under-developed, as primitive in some ways.”
A realm of infinite possibilities
“These artists are offering their own fictions and their own ways of constructing and imagining Blackness not as something limited, but as something unlimited – as a space for new imagining, as a space for possibility, as a space for new dreams that bring to life our interiors, our hopes, our dreams, our reaching out of ourselves, towards the cosmos, as a way of saying that you can’t or won’t be defined by Western imaginary.”
The Black voice
“We will articulate for ourselves with all the passion and purpose that might bring to that topic. We will articulate for ourselves our own ways of being and seeing and walking through the world.”
– Ekow Eshun, writer, curator and broadcaster