In the Black Fantastic: Lina Iris Viktor

Rob Harris

‘Maps are very political, and historically significant in terms of how we make sense of the world… but maps are also very misleading.’

Mapping occupies a significant place within artist Lina Iris Viktor’s series ’A Haven. A Hell. A Dream Deferred’, which draws on ties between the Southern US city of New Orleans and the resettlement of freed slaves in West Africa, particularly within Liberia. In Viktor’s 2018 work, Eleventh, an American Colonization Society map of tribal areas in what is now Liberia are highlighted in gold. The depiction of the map serves to highlight how the land’s established population was disregarded in order to facilitate the creation of Liberia.

Born in 1986, Viktor is a British-Liberian visual artist based in New York. Working in paint, sculpture, performance, installation and photography, she draws on artistic traditions and visual influences from African symbolism and cosmology spanning from the present-day to ancient Egypt, to classical mythology and astronomy, and European portraiture.

As well as works from her 2018 series ’A Haven. A Hell. A Dream Deferred’, our Hayward Gallery exhibition In the Black Fantastic also features two of Viktor’s totemic sculptural creations, each of them made from Volcanic rock. 

In this video Viktor talks us through these works, as well as exploring the notion of ‘the Black Fantastic’, and the way in which the exhibition has connected a group of individual artists.

Artist Lina Iris Viktor wearing a long white dress sits among her own works within Hayward Gallery's exhibition, In the Black Fantastic. The walls are painted red and there are paintings hung on them, whilst there are two sculptural pieces to the artist's left.
Screengrab from video. NOT FOR GENERAL USE

‘There’s so much about Blackness in my work, Blackness that goes beyond conversations around race, to more universal implications of blackness and how we have negotiated negative connotations that always exist around blackness and darkness. And so to be called In the Black Fantastic just turns that whole idea on its head’

Lina Iris Viktor
Woman looking at the installation view of Lina Iris Viktor works, In the Black Fantastic at Hayward Gallery
Zeinab Batchelor
In the Black Fantastic

An exhibition of 11 contemporary artists from the African diaspora, who draw on science fiction, myth and Afrofuturism to question our knowledge of the world. In the Black Fantastic is at Hayward Gallery until 18 September.