Above: Reapproppriation 7 – Angele Etoundi Essamba – Cameroon

AfriKin (afrikin.art) embodies a multifaceted platform intertwining a foundation, a marketplace, and an art fair, representing a fusion of Africa and kinship. Its cultural programming in South Florida underscores the pivotal role of art and culture in human development. This initiative serves as a catalyst for positive transformation, bridging academia, aesthetics, and cultural industries to foster engagement, quality, and global partnerships.

Central to AfriKin’s ethos are its core values:

  • Establishing safe spaces for personal and communal growth
  • Serving as a dynamic hub for creatives
  • Developing empowering programs for advancement and investment
  • Cultivating a new identity through transcultural exchange and positive media representation
  • Advocating for love as a unifying force and promoting understanding and respect
  • Harnessing creative energy for societal progress

Afrikin Art Fair, 2023

Alfonso Brooks, founder and director of AfriKin, underscores its impact, noting recognition by The New York Times as a leading art fair during Miami Art Week 2023.

The upcoming AfriKin Art Fair 2024, themed “Threads of Life in Fragments of Time,” promises to captivate audiences during Miami Art Week, from December 1st through the 8th. Held at Maison AfriKin within the Scott Galvin Community Center, this exposition is going to focus on a profound exploration of human existence and the interconnectedness of all things. Inspired by the invisible threads that bind humanity to the cosmos, the fair will delve into the universal themes of identity, connectivity, and temporal consciousness. Through evocative artworks, it is going to explore the interplay between past, present, and future, celebrating the enduring legacy of African contemporary art on a global stage.

AfriKin Art Fair 2024 will showcase the rich diversity of Global Africa, spanning geographical regions and diasporas. This inclusive approach underscores the fair’s commitment to community building and holistic well-being.

As the Open Call for submissions continues until August 1, 2024, artists are encouraged to participate in this transformative celebration of creativity, culture, and kinship. Selected participants will be notified by September 1, 2024, marking another milestone in AfriKin’s ongoing legacy.

Festival of Jazz – Kheraba Traore – Senegal

.ART talked to Alfonso Brooks, founder and director of AfriKin. 

Could you run us through the history of Afrikin: how have you arrived at the idea to establish Afrikin Foundation and what was the starting point of the Afrikin Art fair? What is your main focus? 

Afrikin pivoted from Rockers Movement, which produced the number one Caribbean Music festival in the United States for many years, starting from 1998. We launched it in New York. And we produced a reggae festival that garnered over 30,000 people around on Randall’s island. I was born in the Dutch Caribbean and was growing up surrounded by art. Pivoting from the music festivals into art happened in 2016, because I saw a deep need to fill the void that was happening especially in South Florida. There were no presentations of Black and African culture in South Florida. It was always something that was denigrating, it always had a very negative connotation. I took on the responsibility to be able to shift that narrative, to craft an authentic narrative of the influence of Africa and African people. It’s a significant influence and for it to be misrepresented is not just an injustice, it’s a double injustice. I possess the means to correct the narrative and to show the other side of the coin. The name, as you see, is a fusion of two words: African and kinship, because Africa is the cradle of civilization. It’s a simple monogenetic fact that has been scientifically proven that civilizations started in Africa and then dispersed over time to the rest of the continent and to the rest of the world. When we realise this, we realise in some form that we are related. We’re all interconnected, we are all a kin. Social constructs are nothing more than someone’s idea to create classes, to create a caste system, to create separation and segmentation within society, for whatever reason. I chose the platform of the arts, because within the arts, there can be no separation. Arts is one of the things that bring everyone together. These are some of the things that bring civilizations together, especially during conflict times. The arts have always been the tool to foster understanding. And this is one of the reasons we decided to focus on it. One has a responsibility to highlight and show the best of your people. 

Which galleries and artists do you usually work with? How is the selection process arranged? 

I work with artists from all over the world. I go to art fairs, museums and galleries all year round, always doing studio visits, gallery visits. And I have a very astute board. I have a board of great art critics and scholars across ethnic lines. Kin doesn’t have race, it’s across ethnic lines. It’s important that people understand that although we show African contemporary art, we are showing people who are not necessarily born in Africa. 

Gimmi Sheltah – Yrneh Gabon – Jamaica

The things you are talking about, resonate with the mission of .ART. We are trying to create an ecosystem, .ART nowadays functions as an institution which supports artists, which develops new products, like the ID.art platform, which helps to manage, authenticate, and monetize artworks, to create certificates of authenticity, to simplify the process of NFT Minting and to centralise one’s artistic presence online. Artists will be able to add the process of creation of the artworks, statements from the artist in the momentum, because obviously contemporary art is not just about the value of the art piece in itself. But it’s also about the storytelling around it. Due to different circumstances throughout centuries storytelling was lost and never found again, but we do have the possibility of creating the depository of this knowledge.

When I chose .ART domain, it was important to me for one simple reason: I am a believer in conciseness, precision and making things clear to people. People need to understand exactly what is what. So when people go to Afrikin.art, they know it’s related to art and not just for now, but actually for posterity. The narrative that I’m creating is for posterity, because one day I will not be here. And we need to be able to put things in place for posterity so that those who come after us can continue our missions.