Image: Detail of Under My Feet, 2023. Courtesy of the artist


Under my Feet

Ilana Harris-Babou


Exhibition Opening:
Saturday, October 7th from 4 – 6pm




Under My Feet by artist Ilana Harris-Babou excavates her childhood memories and remixes playful rituals within the streetscapes of Central Brooklyn, where the artist grew up. Through carefully layering and reimagining the sounds, colors and textures of Prospect Lefferts Gardens, East Flatbush and Crown Heights, a predominantly African-American, Afro-Caribbean, and West Indian immigrant neighborhood, Harris-Babou revisits and reconstructs her memory of home and belonging. She engages with notions of intimacy, witnessing, dispossession, and futurities embedded within the sidewalks and storefronts of Nostrand Avenue, Church Avenue and Flatbush Avenue. 


Through the stacking of sound, image and video, Harris-Babou composes the sidewalks and storefronts of her elusive childhood neighborhood and reveals their potentialities hidden in full view. Using the gallery space as a site to celebrate the intergenerational businesses and retail spaces that operate as sites of liberatory pedagogies for afro-diasporic imaginaries, Harris-Babou invites audiences to choreograph their own experience of worldbuilding through play. 


The exhibition is yearning for the time of childhood, a nod to those games she used to play, skipping over cracks in the sidewalk, sitting down on the gates to the cellars under bodegas, listening to music or just musing over color and texture of the looming signs way above. It is also about revisiting the protective environments of those neighborhood stalwarts curating worlds of pan-African knowledge, providing latitude for Black children to craft their own sense of meaning and affirm their individual personhood as they exist in community. Under My Feet is about recognizing and reconnecting with a vanishing landscape of freedom and support in the midst of gentrification and displacement, and claiming for its futures.


About the Artist

Ilana Harris-Babou. Photo: PJ Roundtree.


Ilana Harris-Babou’s work is interdisciplinary; spanning sculpture and installation, and grounded in video. She speaks the aspirational language of consumer culture and uses humor to digest painful realities. Her work confronts the contradictions of the American Dream: the ever-unreliable notion that hard work will lead to upward mobility and economic freedom. She has exhibited her work internationally, with recent survey exhibitions at Kunsthaus Hamburg & the ICA Chattanooga. Other venues include The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, USA; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, USA; The High Line; New York, USA; West Space, Melbourne, and Warehouse421, Abu Dhabi, UAE.


On the Ground
On the Ground is a yearlong research project and exhibition series about New York City’s ground floor. Through a close look at the urban typology of the storefront, this expansive endeavor presents newly commissioned artistic explorations and dialogues about the heterogeneous threshold between public and private space throughout 2023. The project will unfold through three exhibitions, a radio show, an open call, a public program, and a thematic reader. 


Under my Feet by Ilana Harris-Babou. Organized by the Storefront Team.
Graphic design by Estudio Herrera 

Photography by PJ Rountree


This exhibition has been made possible through the support of the Graham Foundation, the Ruth Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature; public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; with invaluable support from Storefront’s Board of Directors, the Storefront Circle, Storefront members, and individual donors. Storefront is a proud member of CANNY (Collaborative Arts Network New York), currently supported by the Mellon Foundation, the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Arison Arts Foundation, Imperfect Family Foundation, and the Jay DeFeo Foundation.