We have spoke to April Bey recently, and one of the things that stood out was her love of sci-fi and fantasy. When she spoke to us about aliens, she said, "But also the word alien is used as a combative term against people who cross borders and try to decolonize the word alien and reclaim it. There's nothing wrong with being an alien or attempting assimilation. These people aren't aliens, they're human beings. And I'm trying to humanize that word as well. And also, it's coming from Blerd culture. In Blerd culture, nerd culture, aliens really aren't seen as being negative but are seen as something that we obsess over, that we cosplay, and that we're interested in." 

With this in mind, Vielmetter Los Angeles is excited to present I Know All About What You Want to Know All About, April Bey’s first exhibition with the gallery. The exhibition centers on the library and librarians of “Atlantica”, the artist’s imagined alternate universe where glitter is the currency and where visitors travel via portals of flora and fauna.

Bey’s work is deeply rooted in her rigorous reading practice, her love of books and her obsession with Sci-Fi. She incorporates colorful faux fur, glitter, vinyl and woven textiles such as brocade and velvet–materials rich in queerness–to craft icons around the images of real-life figures from her community. Her work, which spans across multiple media such as printed textiles, synthography, weaving and elaborate stitching, reflects her background in printmaking and design and results in richly layered works rooted in the intersections of post-colonialism, Speculative Futurism, internet culture, and feminism.

A bona fide bibliophile and self-described “Blerd”, Bey draws inspiration from a myriad of different sources, many of them books in the fantasy, sci-fi, and futuristic realm including comics and graphic novels. These various wells of inspiration come together to form her world, Atlantica. The origin of Atlantica comes from a formative conversation with her father who used the language of sci-fi to describe the experience of otherness and racial oppression, positioning the artist as an alien on a mission to observe and report on the conditions of Earth.

In Bey’s imagined library, visitors can find archived copies of old Atlantican Magazines from the future in the reference section along with ads for Atlantica’s luxury brand Colonial Swag. They may also encounter Pineapple Afrovenuses, deities that can cut down travel time and aid in transportation at a rapid speed, leaving the traveler with pineapple scented hair and skin. Populating the library are Calathea Crotalus Cerastes, a hybrid plant which fruits the hands of Black femmes with freshly manicured nails–they too act as transportation devices that grow naturally on Atlantica. On Atlantica, librarians are the custodians of the history of the world, their job is of the utmost import and crucial to the fundamental operations of Atlantica.

As depicted in the tapestry I Know All About What You Want To Know All About (2024), they don’t look like your typical librarian and neither does their setting. Playing multifaceted roles, they are caretakers of all archives and printed matter as well as custodians of plant medicine. Roles and responsibilities on Atlantica are less binary than they are on Earth. Though, as Bey reminds us, librarians in our world do function as much more than people who maintain collections of books, they are social workers and community organizers. Atlantican librarians can morph, as can the physical space of the library, underscoring the space of Atlantica as a decolonized place where anyone can be anything they want at any time–where the rigidity and oppression of societal organization falter and room is created to exercise new ideas of being.