Welcome to Atlantica. This world is yours to inhabit. April Bey will be your guide, she’s created a planet that’s free from prejudice, that celebrates difference and where the only currency is love.
April Bey’s first solo exhibition in Europe, I Believe in Why I’m Here, introduces us to the world of Atlantica, created by the artist over thirty years. The gallery is completely transformed into a magical environment exploding with vibrant life that welcomes and empowers anyone that visits. You’ll meet some of Atlantica’s inhabitants rendered as large-scale portraits in opulent textiles; sherpa, metallic thread and faux Atlantican fur, adorned with glitter, sequins and hand stitching. Across selfie-style closeups and editorial-esque portraits these individuals hold their space, unapologetically themselves. Each figure exudes confidence in their own Black skin as they model the planet’s fashion line ‘Colonial Swag’, one of the many brilliantly conceptualised speculative elements of Atlantica designed and executed by April with wit and precision. The figures are accompanied by anthropomorphic plant species collaged in the same richly textured fabrics that remind us of the intrinsic relationship between humans and nature, that all living forms are a product of the natural world. The Atlanticans engage in acts of radical relaxation, nourished by their abundant natural environment and live free from the earthbound limitations imposed on them due to their appearance, identity or ability. Each of the figures in the show is a real person, selected by April as model Atlantican citizens for their ability to boldly go where no earthling has gone before by defying societal norms and pressures. Triple Minor, Astra Marie, Myjah Moon and Saucye West are all stars in their own right, pushing the boundaries of their own creative practices from genderless fashion to iconic nail art and body positivity, inspiring a generation of Instagram followers and rolemodelling self-love and Queer joy.