The latest show at The Sugar Hill Children’s Museum, “Parade” by Derek Fordjour, is a spectacle that will leave you wistfully exhilarated.
Taking place in one of Harlem’s most distinct architectural marvels the museum initiates you into an immersive experience of art from the moment the doors open with permanent art installations grabbing for your attention. Moreover, the museum inherited a rich history of culture passed down by the Harlem Renaissance with characters including: W. E. B. Du Bois, Thurgood Marshall, Adam Clayton Powell, Duke Ellington – among so many others – individuals that challenged the status quo and pushed forward conventions of Harlem’s unique culture.
That same sense of greatness and revolution was present at PARADE’s opening, on Wednesday July 27, as the large crowd gathered eagerly to partake in a spectacle unlike most art shows they’d been to. Almost like entering a scene from “Alice in Wonderland” the show’s processionary nature transports you from the ordinary into an enchanted multi-dimensional world.
Fordjour’s rabbit hole delivers you into the distant memories of childhood where the forgotten parts of ourselves come back to life like watching old home-made movies. Like all distant memories, the show is beautifully chaotic like a collage of seemingly disparate details that converge and overlap without overt rhyme or reason.
It is the kind of show that is impossible to fully absorb, instead it absorbs you. Upon completing PARADE you’ll be turning to your friends, asking: “Did you notice this?” , “Remember that?” , “How about those…!” and suddenly you’ll find yourself far down along the path of memory lane to a time when everything was saturated with imagination and potential.
For me that’s the true beauty of this show. It refreshes our childhood spirit that was once so young and naïve; occupied with the innocence of curiosity; virgin to the worries of adulthood; a spirit that recognizes the magic in the mundane and the inimitable in the ordinary. This show reminds its audience that vestiges of our juvenile fantasies still thrive within us – that they have not abandoned us despite our daily distractions.
The world Fordjour invites you to join is layered with such precise nuance and with an astounding attention to detail that while feels universal and applicable to each of us, it is also clear that it is a biographically tailored show. Fordjour told us: “It’s all personal! Specifically, the bed, half-made/ half-unmade. It’s about my push and pull between being disciplined and undisciplined. Creativity, for me, lives somewhere in between.”
Knowing this the thesis of the show appears clearer than ever. The liminality the spectator experiences is one between the contracts of adulthood and the blank slate of pubescence – exactly where the seeds of our creative persuasions first germinated. It’s the perfect return home and a perfect example of an art that can truly rejuvenate!