June 3 marked the second annual Africa’sOut! event, and it was a night to remember. Pioneer Works, the gargantuan arts space in Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood, was transformed into a breezy and festive oasis. Colorful basket swings swung and spun around a jovial crowd of dancing guests that included honoree Zanele Muholi, Thelma Golden, and Julie Mehretu; a projection of Nick Cave’s Passport to a Playground splashed across a wall leading into a banquet-style dining room that featured scrumptious food by Ghetto Gastro; a lively performance by Santigold had the crowd working off its dinner; and MC Mr. Gandy held it all together with his humorous wit. Overall, the night was a light-hearted affair that brought together the New York art world for a great cause.
Africa’sOut is the brainchild of artist and activist Wangechi Mutu. The organization’s mission is to create gender awareness and equality by striving “for radical change through ‘Imaginative Activism,’ creative brilliance, and new effective methods of articulation.” Imaginative Activism includes a variety of initiatives ranging from on-the-ground artist projects; such as, Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s public art program “Love in South Africa: Tatyana Fazlalizadeh for Africa’s Out! with None on Record” that pushes against transphobia and homophobia, to financial support for organizations such as UHAI-EASHRI, an initiative focused on sexual health and rights in East Africa.
Mutu’s vision is realized through a collective effort of her peers, colleagues, and like-minded friends contributing their talents to support the cause. In addition to the general hubbub on June 3, there was a live auction that raised financial support for a myriad of initiatives Africa’sOut! benefits. Works by international greats Kehinde Wiley, Wardell Milan, Deana Lawson, and Glenn Ligon were on the roster. A series of limited-edition totes created by Great Bag Co. in collaboration with artists such as Derrick Adams, Mickalene Thomas, Dustin Yellin, and Hank Willis Thomas, were also available for purchase.