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

The New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) presents Lina Iris Viktor: A Haven. A Hell. A Dream Deferred, the first major museum presentation of the work of Lina Iris Viktor. On view October 5, 2018, through January 6, 2019, Viktor has created a new body of work to be presented in NOMA’s Great Hall that explores the factual and fantastical narratives surrounding America’s involvement in the founding of the West African nation of Liberia.

Founded in 1822 by the American Colonization Society, Liberia was originally conceived of as a conduit for the resettlement of free-born and formerly enslaved black Americans in Africa, in large part due to fear of an uprising upon the abolition of slavery. Throughout A Haven. A Hell. A Dream Deferred, Viktor reimagines Liberia’s colonial past through the lens of the “Libyan Sibyl” figure of classical antiquity, who was said to predict ill-fated futures and would later re-emerge as a common motif in the art and literature of the American abolitionist movement. Viktor, who was raised in London to Liberian parents, is widely recognized for her richly gilded paintings, works on paper and installations that interweave references to modern and traditional West African textile culture, cosmic abstractions and evocative figurative imagery.

“NOMA is pleased to present Lina Iris Viktor’s exhibition, and to foreground a lesser-known history of which the American South was a part,” said Susan Taylor, NOMA’s Montine McDaniel Freeman Director. “In this series, Viktor offers her unique perspective on a complex and multifaceted history.”

“Liberia appears in Viktor’s re-imagining as a kind of paradise lost, and as a cautionary tale,” said Allison Young, Andrew W. Mellon Fellow of Contemporary Art. “At the same time, her work transcends this narrative, revealing how examples of visual culture—from Dutch Wax fabrics to national emblems to gestures in the history of portraiture—exist as remnants of these colonial histories.”

Lina Iris Viktor: A Haven. A Hell. A Dream Deferred., created for the Great Hall, is organized by the New Orleans Museum of Art and is sponsored by Reuben O. Charles II, Pulane Kingston, Alida, and Christopher Latham, and Jim and Christina Lockwood. Additional support provided by the Mariane Ibrahim Gallery.

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