Lina Iris Viktor: A Haven. A Hell. A Dream Deferred.

New Orleans Museum of Art
Published by Skira Editore, 2019

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Edited by Allison K. Young

Allison K. Young
Emmanuel Iduma
Renée Mussai

Lina Iris Viktor’s mixed media works reflect on the relationship between art, prophecy, and spiritual belief. Merging self-portraiture with opulent geometric backdrops, Viktor draws from a variety of influences such as ancient mythology, West and Central African tribal cosmologies, Aboriginal dream paintings, African textiles, astronomy and contemporary visual culture.

Viktor’s new series for the New Orleans Museum of Art looks to the history of the Republic of Liberia, from which her parents were forced to flee amidst civil war in the 1980s. Liberia, established in West Africa as an act of American “altruism” following the abolishment of the international slave trade, exists as a place of confusion for the artist and is presented as an uneasy utopia and a cautionary tale. The nation was founded in the early nineteenth century by the American Colonization Society, a private society that petitioned for the abolition of slavery as well as the resettlement of freed African Americans in West Africa. Extending Viktor’s engagement with the entanglement of Liberia’s founding to the history of slavery and abolitionism in the United States prior to the Civil War, this exhibition will also feature works that consider the history of slavery in the U.S. South as well as the complexity of New Orleans’ own historical and cultural links to Africa.