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WeAreCity: Black Futurism


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Presentation for the WeAreCity symposium in Indianapolis, IN on August 21, 2014.

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WeAreCity: Black Futurism

  2. 2. In some far off place Many light years in space I’ll wait for you. Where human feet have never trod, Where human eyes have never seen. I'll build a world of abstract dreams And wait for you. –Liner notes to Monorails and Satellites (1968)
  3. 3. “Afrofuturism is way of re-contextualizing and assessing history and imagining the future of the African Diaspora via science, science fiction, technology, sound, architecture, the visual and culinary arts and other more nimble and interpretive modes of research and understanding.”
  4. 4. Early examples of Afrofuturism include stories about a hidden society in Ethopia with advanced technology, an apocalyptic event in which civilization is destroyed, a real-life black scientist, and the first female black pilot.
  5. 5. Jazz musician Sun Ra presented a unified conception, incorporating music, myth, and performance into his multi-leveled equations. His view of space influenced later generations of artists.
  6. 6. “I was a big fan of Star Trek, so we did a thing with a pimp sitting in a spaceship shaped like a Cadillac, and we did all these James Brown-type grooves, but with street talk and ghetto slang.”
  7. 7. The events and specific technical artifacts built for World’s Fairs made a lasting impression on the urban dwellers that encountered them – i.e. the lasting image of the Unisphere.
  8. 8. We must create our own creation mythologies, alternate realities and identities.
  9. 9. We must consider new or different conceptions of race, gender and culture through twenty-first century technologies that may create major changes for human life.
  10. 10. Across the Diaspora, African artists and designers are following race, culture and art into their future possibilities, weaving together textured and fantastical enhancements.
  11. 11. “Sonic Afro-modernity” is the “interplay between sound technologies and black music and speech enabled the emergence of modern black culture.” –Alexander G. Weheliye
  12. 12. Shabazz Palaces’ Lese Majesty is a series of astral suites of recorded happenings and “a dope-hex thrown from the compartments that have artificially contained us all and hindered our sublime collusion.” –Pitchfork
  13. 13. Click HERE to download book and see chapter 2.7.
  14. 14. Click HERE to view Afrikadaa issue on Afrofuturism.
  15. 15. ::Questions?
  16. 16. ::Image Credits Slide 1: Sun Ra (1965); Sun Ra in Space is the Place production still (1972); Shabazz Palaces. Inside cover for Lese Majesty (2014). Illustrated by Nep Sidhu. Slide 3: Sanford Biggers and Moon Medicine. Multimedia performance live at the Hammer Museum at UCLA. Photo at the Rubin Museum, New York, NY in conjunction with Grain of Emptiness, photography courtesy Michael Palma. Slide 4: Pauline Hopkins’ One Blood (1902); W.E.B. Dubois’ The Comet (1920); Bessie Coleman, first African American pilot, courtesy National Air and Space Museum. Slide 5: The Heliocentric Worlds of Sun Ra, Volume Two - Sun Ra (1965); Sun Ra in Space is the Place production still (1972). Slide 6: Parliament. “The Mothership Connection,” (1975). Slide 7: The Unisphere, from the northwest. Photo: Donald G. Presa; Afrika Bambaataa & The Soulsonic Force. Don't Stop... Planet Rock - The Remix EP (1992); Craig Mack. Flava in Ya Ear (1994).
  17. 17. ::Image Credits Slide 8: Wangechi Mutu. Non je ne regrette rien, 2007. Mixed media on mylar, 137 x 233 cm . Courtesy Victoria Miro, London . Photo: Allison Smith and Michelle Pemberton. Slide 9: Ellen Gallagher, Untitled, 2012. Oil, ink, and paper on canvas, 24 x 24 in (61 x 61 cm). Courtesy the artist. © Ellen Gallagher. Photo: Zarko Vijatovic Slide 10: Wanuri Kahiu. Pumzi, film still, 2009. Courtesy Focus Features Africa First Short Film Program. Slide 11: Sun Ra in rehearsal October, 1971 Oakland, CA. Photo from; Cyrus Kabiru’s C-Stunners; RAMMELLZEE (The “Equation”), 1984. Slide 12: William Cordova in collaboration with Nyeema Morgan and Otabenga Jones & Associates, yawar mallku (sculpting elsewhere in time / the arc of the moral universe is long… / the Lesson, pt. 2). Slide 13: Shabazz Palaces. Inside cover for Lese Majesty (2014). Illustrated by Nep Sidhu. Slide 16: Muchiri Njenga. Kichwateli production still, ().