Akeem Smith: No Gyal Can Test

Red Bull Arts, is pleased to present, Akeem Smith: No Gyal Can Testthe first major solo presentation of artist, creative director, and stylist Akeem Smith. The exhibition will debut at Red Bull Arts New York this Spring (April 10 – June 28) before travelling to Red Bull Arts Detroit this Fall.

Akeem Smith: No Gyal Can Test is a deeply personal project that investigates the slippages between memory, archive, and history, and, in turn, the weight of visibility and representation. The exhibition focuses on the artist’s experience growing up between New York and Jamaica from the 1990s to the early 2000s amidst Kingston’s thriving dancehall scene. Over the past decade, Smith has assembled an ever-growing archive, at the heart of which is an extensive trove of photographs and VHS video tapes, entrusted to him by family, friends, and key figures from the dancehall scene.

At Red Bull Arts, Smith will debut a series of large-scale sculptures constructed from the remnants of demolished structures sourced over the last year from his childhood neighborhood – Kingston’s Waterhouse District. Filtered through his transgressive and challenging aesthetic, these sculptures, a precarious arrangement of hybridized multimedia monuments, house elements carefully culled from Smith’s archive. These works will be bookended by immersive, multi-channel video installations distilled from hundreds of hours of archival footage. Through presenting historical artifacts and readymade materials removed from their original contexts, Smith asks viewers to encounter this archive not as a catalogue of something past, but as part of a larger, still-living exploration of a community rooted in celebration.

“Akeem is a rare artistic talent—part old school punk, part poet– whose long been at the center of a generation of vanguard artists, fashion designers and musicians who have radically altered our creative collective conscious over the years.” says Max Wolf, Red Bull Arts Chief Curator.


Akeem Smith (b.1991, Brooklyn, New York) has spent over a decade sharing a voice deeply shaped by his childhood experiences working with his family’s fashion house, the OUCH Collective, which designed looks for prominent members of Kingston’s dancehall community. As an artist and creative director, Smith has been an influential, often under-the-radar collaborator with artists and brands such as Deana Lawson, DIS, Helmut Lang, Hood by Air, K8 Hardy, Lizzie Fitch and Ryan Trecartin, The Row, and Yeezy.

Related Exhibitions: Akeem Smith: No Gyal Can Test

Akeem Smith: No Gyal Can Test

Akeem Smith, Untitled, 2020 (still). Multi-channel video installation with sound.