September 17 – December 7, 2019
Exhibition Opening: September 17, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

NEW YORK — The Ford Foundation Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of its new exhibition, Utopian Imagination, on Tuesday, September 17, with an opening event from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm that evening. The gallery space at the Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice is dedicated to presenting multidisciplinary art, performance, and public programming by artists committed to exploring issues of justice and injustice. The gallery is open to the public and admission is free. Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday, 11:00 am to 6:00 pm.

Utopian Imagination, curated by Jaishri Abichandani closes out the inaugural year of exhibitions at the gallery. The gallery’s first exhibition, Perilous Bodies (March 5 – May 11, 2019), examined injustice through the intersecting lens of race, gender, ethnicity, and class. Radical Love (June 11 – August 17) responded to the first show by offering love as the answer to end the violence enacted upon bodies in peril.

Utopian Imagination brings together the works of 13 diverse artists from around the world to create an anthology of futuristic narratives that inspire hope for our existence on an increasingly imperiled planet. The artworks evoke a sense of wonder and magic through fictional landscapes, transformed bodies, and space and flight as a metaphor for liberation. The artists represent a wide array of lived experiences and identities, including indigenous, LGBTQIA+, and feminist voices.

“The artists of Utopian Imagination are creating worlds ahead of our time by imagining societies built upon justice and inclusion that hold the key to our survival,” says Lisa Kim, the gallery’s director. “While our future may be uncertain, the works by these artists offer us a momentary space of respite and joy, a vision of a just world transformed by love, imagination, perseverance, and solidarity.”

Saks Afridi’s Space Mosque project imagines a world altered by a mysterious spacecraft that appears like a hovering mosque and generates a phenomenon whereby everyone’s prayers are answered. Beatriz Cortez’s Boxes of Wonder offer fortunes and wishes for the future by the indigenous Kaqjay community in Guatemala and immigrants in the US. Mikael Owunna and farxiyo jaamac present imagery of black bodies as galactic beings. Cyborgs, astronauts, and deities are cast as extensions of ourselves.

The self-portrait by Lola Flash encapsulates the spirit of the exhibition. Viewed from below as one would look up at a deity, Lola’s ambiguously gendered tattooed body is clad in an orange prison jumpsuit with a pair of unshackled handcuffs dangling from her wrist. Head ensconced in an astronaut’s helmet, she is framed against a landscape of blue sky and water, a perfect embodiment of the dream of liberation of her ancestors.

Exhibiting artists
Saks Afridi (Pakistan/United States), Morehshin Allahyari (Iran/United States), Firelei Báez (Dominican Republic/United States), Beatriz Cortez (El Salvador/United States), Lola Flash (United States), Juliana Huxtable (United States), farxiyo jaamac (Somalia/Canada), Lee Bul (Korea), Cannupa Hanska Luger (United States – Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Lakota), Mariko Mori (Japan), Zak Ové (England), Mikael Owunna (United States), Yinka Shonibare CBE (England/Nigeria)

About the curator

Jaishri Abichandani is a Brooklyn-based artist and curator. She received her MFA from Goldsmiths, University of London, and founded the South Asian Women’s Creative Collective in New York and London. Abichandani served as the founding director of public events and projects at the Queens Museum. More recently, she engineered a collaboration between the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, Asia Society, and the Queens Museum to organize a national convening and the exhibition Lucid Dreams and Distant Visions.


Opened in March 2019 at the Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice in New York City, the Ford Foundation Gallery aims to shine a light on artwork that wrestles with difficult questions, calls out injustice, and points the way toward a fair and just future. Our hope is for this to be a responsive and adaptive space, one that serves the public in its openness to experimentation, contemplation, and conversation. Located near the United Nations, the space is situated to draw visitors from around the world—and address questions that cross borders and speak to the universal struggle for human dignity.

The gallery is located inside the Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice and is accessible to the public through an entrance on 42nd Street, east of Second Avenue. The gallery is open to the public Monday through Saturday, 11:00 am – 6:00 pm.

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For information about the Ford Foundation Gallery and its exhibitions, please contact:
Amani Olu
Olu & Company
[email protected]
1 (646) 330-1039

For information about the Ford Foundation, please contact:
Nicole Okai
Ford Foundation Press Office
[email protected]
1 (212) 573-5128

Ford Foundation Gallery
320 East 43rd Street
New York, NY 10017
Monday – Saturday 11AM – 6PM

The Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is an independent organization working to address inequality and build a future grounded in justice. For more than 85 years, it has supported visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. Today, with an endowment of $16 billion, the foundation has headquarters in New York and 10 regional offices across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

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