At the core of his work, New York-based artist Azikiwe Mohammed prioritizes the importance of place making for people of color across America. Believing there is a lack of safe public space for his peers specifically—and people of color more holistically—Mohammed makes installations that reimagine sites such as parks, corner stores, and thrift shops to impart a full history of the community, not just that of a dominant, white culture.
In 2017, Mohammed realized Jimmy’s Thrift of New Davonhaime, a fictional thrift store that contains objects made and found by Mohammed during his travels around the United States researching a fictional city. New Davonhaime—a location conceived by Mohammed—is an amalgamation of the five cities in America with the densest populations of African Americans: New Orleans, Detroit, Jackson, Birmingham, and Savannah. For The Autotopographers, Mohammed will create the next location in New Davonhaime, a park and a corner-store façade that emphasize public spaces where people of color can feel both secure and acknowledged. In the park are benches constructed from milk crates and wooden stools that provide seating for video-based portraits of Black and Latinx community members. Mohammed interviewed members of his community and, in the park, he will share their stories, memories, and histories as a way to bring visibility to their experience. In so doing, Mohammed created a park for his peers to feel comfortable and to provide a place of rest, relaxation, and leisure.