ARTECHOUSE DC DEBUTS AWARD-WINNING CULTURAL EXHIBITION — Aṣẹ: Afro Frequencies — EXPLORING THE CONCEPT OF AFROCENTRICITY
Washington, DC — ARTECHOUSE, an innovative leader in the field of technology-driven and experiential art, kicks off the celebration of its 5th anniversary with the debut of a groundbreaking cultural exhibition, Aṣẹ: Afro Frequencies, in the nation’s capital. Created by ARTECHOUSE Studio featuring designs by Vince Fraser, a London-based Afro-surrealist visual artist, the sensory-filled, immersive exhibition takes visitors on a journey that celebrates historical and social aspects of the African diaspora and Black culture through the artist’s lens. Open to all ages, Aṣẹ: Afro Frequencies debuts on June 13 and will be on display through fall 2022, at ARTECHOUSE DC (1238 Maryland Ave. SW).
An incubator for boundary-pushing artists in the new age of digital arts, ARTECHOUSE collaborated with Fraser to further amplify his work at the intersection between art, technology and activism. The main audiovisual installation in the Immersion Gallery, Visions of the Black Experience, employs 18-channel, 270° floor-to-wall surround projection array, and a 22.5-channel hyperreal spatialized audio system to shed light on the cultural and diasporic triumphs and social justice issues facing the Black community. The word itself Aṣẹ (ah-shay), a philosophical belief held by the Yoruba people of West Africa, is drawn on to invoke power to produce change.
“The elements in Aṣẹ portray the boundaries and the limitations that we experience as people of color in daily life, but at the same time, I’m also focusing on paying homage to our ancestors. In conceptualizing the exhibition with ARTECHOUSE Studio, I wanted to capture the balanced elements of sight and sound so that visitors could truly experience the power of African culture,” said Vince Fraser. “I’m incredibly thankful to the team at ARTECHOUSE for empowering my work to go beyond where I ever imagined it could.”
A continuation of ARTECHOUSE’s “We Rise Above” collaboration with Fraser, which launched in August 2020 in response to Black Lives Matter protests, Aṣẹ fuses modern symbolism with interactive imagery, bringing some of the most pivotal moments in Black history to life through 21st-century art. The immersive Afro-surrealist exhibition, which had a successful and critically acclaimed debut at ARTECHOUSE Miami in summer 2021, was named ‘Best Exhibition’ in Time Out Miami’s ‘Best of the City 2021 Awards and travels to ARTECHOUSE DC after a successful run at Bellagio Gallery of Fine art in Las Vegas.
“What’s revolutionary about Aṣẹ: Afro Frequencies, is that we’re communicating messages with such cultural relevance while still pushing the boundaries between art and technology. This collaboration is an important milestone in ARTECHOUSE’s efforts to amplify new artistic perspectives and voices and share technology-driven art experiences with diverse audiences across the nation,” said Sandro Kereselidze, ARTECHOUSE Founder & Chief Creative Officer.
Multi-sensory installations throughout the art space depict the journeys of African kings and queens reimagined in a new digital context. Furthermore, visitors can virtually “try on” African masks, which are assembled around the viewer’s computerized reflection like an Instagram filter. Aṣẹ’s visuals are echoed by pulsating rhythmic drums and stirring spoken words from Philadelphia-based poet Ursula Rucker. A Leeway Foundation’s Transformation Award winner, Rucker’s words intricately narrate the exhibition, connecting the dots of Fraser’s imagery and speak to similar themes of empowerment, ancestry, and social justice.
The main audiovisual installation in the Immersion Gallery is supported by the interactive auxiliary galleries, providing visitors with a multisensory experience combining film, motion, Afro-surrealism, and poetry. “Making imaginations into reality, the talented team of 3D, interactive, technical, animation, and spatial designers at ARTECHOUSE Studio launched the potential of Vince’s work into a fully realized experiential exhibition,” said Riki Kim, ARTECHOUSE Executive Creative Director. The galleries complement the core themes from the Immersion Gallery with installations designed to educate visitors on the cultural diversity of the African continent in a way that is reimagined in Fraser’s surreal universe.
Gallery 1 presents the vibrant Magic Vodun and 1000 Masks showcased on 10’ x 20’ LED panels accompanied by a bespoke ceiling lighting piece. Magic Vodun dances in echoes while 1000 Masks plays hide-and-seek with the visitor as they move around the gallery. Gallery 2 exhibits Afrikanism, an interactive, futuristic African map that shifts and echoes below the visitors’ feet while the animated pixel-mapped LED lights on the walls add a sense of space. The piece is accompanied by Afrotude, an interactive installation inspired by the concept of rebirth and represented by a pulsing figure that will inject any visitor with a jolt of African-tude. The Back Hallway will display Egungun, a series of 13 interactive African tribal masks, each with a distinct style and story, that visitors can virtually wear. The Media Lab will feature a fully redesigned Binghi that celebrates the power of percussion and light, combined with a projection-mapped sculpture in a fully mirrored room. The XR Bar will feature IOWI, an interactive artwork using the visitor’s image and inspired by Fraser’s earlier fashionable collage work, along with the signature XR activation brought to life through the ARTECHOUSE mobile app.
Aṣẹ: Afro Frequencies opens June 13 and runs through Fall 2022. ARTECHOUSE DC is open 10am-10pm daily at 1238 Maryland Ave. SW, Washington, DC 20024. ARTECHOUSE DC’s XR Bar is open Monday–Thursday 4pm-close and Friday–Sunday 11am-close. Tickets are $17-25 with special pricing for families Monday–Friday; for a limited time locals who book in advance save Monday-Friday on the first full week. To purchase tickets online, visit: artechouse.com/location/dc.
An innovative leader in the field of digital and experiential art, ARTECHOUSE expands the possibilities of art and how we experience it through cutting-edge technology-driven exhibitions and experiences. ARTECHOUSE connects progressive ideas, artists and audiences to stimulate innovation and creativity at the intersection of art, science and technology. What started as the nation’s first digital art space is now a home, online and off, for technology-driven art innovation, with a mission to empower and fund the creation of new, experiential and exploratory art forms that make an impact.
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WASHINGTON, D.C. TIMES AND TICKETS:
Aṣẹ: Afro Frequencies is on view to the public starting June 13, 2022
Daily General Admissions: Monday – Sunday from 10am – 10pm. Sessions are every 30 minutes. Please arrive on time.
- Adults (16+): $25 Advance / $26 On Site
- Children (Ages 4-15): $17 Advance / $18 On Site
- FREE for children under the age of 4
- Students, Seniors, Military & First Responders: $20 Advance / $21 On Site
- Weekday Family Pack (2 adults, 2 children): $75 (Advance only)
Single and group tickets can be reserved in advance at artechouse.com/dc.
ARTECHOUSE DC is located at 1238 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20024 in walking distance from the National Mall, L’Enfant Plaza and the District Wharf.