Afropolitan festival returns to Brussels with vibrant exhibitions

The sixth edition of the Afropolitan Festival will be held at Bozar in Brussels from 19 to 21 May. This year's theme, Legacies from the Black Cosmos, focuses on "the power of imaginations of Black communities in creating new cosmoses where freedom of expression and self-identification is possible outside societal definitions".

Afrofuturism is at the heart of the festival, as contemporary artists from the Belgian and international African diaspora come together to celebrate culture and legacy. Afrofuturism refers to a movement from the 1950s based on the concept of Black identity and freedom through art, activism, philosophy, technology and future liberation for Black communities.

The immersive experiences at Afropolitan include films, talks and debates, photography exhibitions, pop-up books and fashion shops and child-friendly activities. Belgian Pride weekend coincides with Afropolitan this year, and there are several presentations centring on Black queer voices.

Avant-garde self-expression

Photographer Nick Kuskin will present his work documenting the celebration of expression from a night spent at the Royal House of LaBeija in an exhibition called The Harlem Fantasy '82. Ball Culture, also known as Ballroom Scene, is a subculture founded in the 1960s by the Black and Latino LGBTQ+ community in response to the racism they faced in drag queen pageants. These havens provided space for those marginalised and frustrated by the lack of response to the HIV crisis and served as a place for avant-garde self-expression.

Kuskin's exhibition will remain at Bozar until September, and the festival will bring in prominent Ballroom Scene members to discuss the importance of this cultural and political space.

The meeting of African and Flemish cultures can be found at Kuumba, the Flemish-African Centre. The organisation aims to unite these two groups for dialogue and expression through their respective cultures. Their offering for the festival will be through dance. In an afternoon for children of all ages, Joseph Saidi Simako will lead everyone with his Congolese drums.

Visitors can also discover African literature in the pop-up bookshop provided by Ici Sont Les Lions and see works by local designers at the Black Lifestyle Market. Aurélie Mulowa, the founder of Belgian Entreprenoires, invited 10 female creators who specialise in fashion, beauty, food, wellness, skincare and more, encouraging locals to support Black-owned brands.



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