The Museum of Fine Arts Boston’s ongoing series of commissions engaging artists to create banners for the Museum’s Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art continues with Lauren Halsey.
Lauren Halsey work traverses time and cultures, but it always remains firmly rooted in her immediate community of South Central Los Angeles, where her family has lived for over a century. For her Banner Project, Halsey remixes signs, symbols and Afrofuturist visions inspired by the visual vernacular of her neighborhood, including posters, advertising and tags. She juxtaposes them with works from the ancient cultures of Egypt and Nubia that she selected from the MFA’s collection. She also takes inspiration from the aesthetic output of the 1970s, such as the Italian speculative architecture collective Superstudio and the music collective Parliament-Funkadelic.
These banners are, in the words of the artist, “fantastical cartographies”—maps that trace heritage from the African continent to the contemporary Black and African-American diasporas in the U.S. Engaged in caring for and reimagining the social bonds in her community, Lauren Halsey sees these banners as blueprints to imagine new futures, both local and global, that celebrate and protect Black life.
A similar flag project exists at the Momentary contemporary art museum in Bentonville, Arkansas, allowing artists like Olalekan Jeyifous create temporary flags to fly outside the museum.