robertogreco + afrofuturism   21

Speculative Anthropologies — Cultural Anthropology
"At the intersection of speculative fiction and anthropology, we find a sense of epistemological humility about the kind of worlds we could or should inhabit. Yet epistemological humility should not be confused with futility: possibilities and potentialities still matter. We do not know what we are capable of, and yet that need not keep us from the pursuit of what ifs. Through the imaginative interpellations of speculative fiction (SF), the contributors to this Theorizing the Contemporary series gravitate toward new localities and means of presence: ecological, technological, Afro-futuristic. Facing the imminent prospect of both disaster and discovery, they call us to resist despair and to craft tangible ways of shaping and repairing the worlds we still hope for.

Posts in This Series

Introduction: Speculative Anthropologies
by Ryan Anderson, Emma Louise Backe, Taylor Nelms, Elizabeth Reddy and Jeremy Trombley

The Unstable Edge: Anthropology, Speculative Fiction, and the Incremental Threat of Sea Level Rise
by Ryan Anderson

Our Present as the Past’s Fictitious Future
by Sally A. Applin

Solarpunking Speculative Futures
by Nandita Badami

Thinking Parabolically: Time Matters in Octavia Butler’s Parables
by Priya Chandrasekaran

Looking for Humanity in Science Fiction through Afrofuturism
by David Colón-Cabrera

Planeterra Nullius: Science Fiction Writing and the Ethnographic Imagination
by William Lempert (Open author orcid page in new window)

Fieldnotes from the Twilight Zone
by Patricia Markert and Jeremy Trombley

Invisible City: A Speculative Guide
by Taylor Nelms

First Contact with Possible Futures
by Michael Oman-Reagan (Open author orcid page in new window)

Speculative Fiction and Speculating about the Social
by Elizabeth Reddy

Evidently SF
by David Valentine

Anthropology’s Latent Futures
by Samuel Gerald Collins

Unbounding the Field/Note
by Valerie Olson

The Necessary Tension between Science Fiction and Anthropology
by Matthew Wolf-Meyer"
speculative  anthropology  speculativeanthropology  speculativefiction  designfiction  speculation  afrofuturism  ecology  technology  immigration  climatechange  ryananderson  emmalouisebacke  taylornelms  elizabethreddy  jeremytrombley  sallyapplin  nanditabadami  priyachandrasekaran  davidcolón-cabrera  williamlempert  patriciamarkert  michaeloman-reagan  samuelgeraldcollins  davidvalentine  valerieolson  matthewwolf-meyer 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Juxtapoz Magazine - Red Bull Arts New York Produces “RAMMELLZEE: It’s Not Who But What,” Examining the Groundbreaking Artist
"Elaborating on the ornate and abstract visual language of wild style graffiti, Rammellzee decided to create his own Alphabet, arming the letter for assault against the tyranny of our information age. A visionary, polymath and autodidact, Rammellzee infused urban vernacular with a complex and hermeneutic meta-structure that was informed equally by the illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages, the history of military strategy and design, radical politics and semiotics.

A persistent and formidable figure in New York’s Downtown scene since he moved from his childhood home in the Rockaways and relocated to a studio in Tribeca in the late ’70s, Rammellzee garnered a legion of followers (notably including A-One, Toxic and Kool Koor) to his school of Gothic Futurism and stormed public consciousness with his performances in films like Charlie Ahearn’s Wild Style and Jim Jarmusch’s Stranger Than Paradise. His most famous collaboration, however, was with his one-time friend and life-long nemesis Jean-Michel Basquiat, who immortalized him in his masterwork Hollywood Africans and produced Rammellzee’s signature single “Beat Bop,” releasing it on his own label, Tar Town Records. To this day, it is considered one of the foundational records of hip hop. After enjoying much success in the art world in the ’80s, Rammellzee would turn his back on the gallery system and spend the rest of his life producing the Afrofuturist masterpiece The Battle Station, in his studio loft.

Guided by his treatise on “Ikonoklastik Panzerism,” the first manifesto he wrote while still a teen, Rammellzee was at once the high priest of hip hop and a profoundly Conceptual artist. In his expansive cosmology, born of b-boy dynamics, the wordplay of rap and the social trespass of graffiti, Rammellzee inhabited multiple personae in an ongoing performance art where identity and even gender became fluid and hybrid. Over the past two decades of his life, increasingly focused on his studio practice, he created a mind-blowing universe of Garbage Gods, Letter Racers, Monster Models and his surrogate form, the vengeful deity of Gasolier. Though his art, working with toxic materials, and lifestyle brought about an early death in 2010, his ideas and art remain a legacy we’ll be trying to figure out for generations to come. —Carlo McCormick"

[video on YouTube: ]

[See also:

"The Spectacular Personal Mythology of Rammellzee"

"The Rammellzee universe"

"Art Excavated From Battle Station Earth" (2012) ]
rammellzee  via:subtopes  nyc  history  art  music  1970s  artists  video  basquiat  afrofuturism  jimjarmusch  charlieahearn  gothicfuturism  autodidacts  polymaths  jean-michelbasquiat  middleages  illuminatedmanuscripts  streetart  graffiti  edg  costumes  performance  glvo 
june 2018 by robertogreco
A new U.S.-Mexico border? At the Venice Biennale, imagining a binational region called MEXUS
"As part of their research into watersheds, Cruz and Forman have created an inventory of public lands in Los Laureles that can serve multiple purposes — as green space, environmental education center and natural buffers to mitigate flows of waste. And they are working to see how they can create a mechanism to invest in those spaces so that they might be preserved.

“Instead of the investing in the wall,” says Cruz, “can we invest to get the poor settlement to regulate the flow of waste? Can we get the poor residents to take care of the rich estuary?’

The subjects are tricky, but in these types of projects, Zeiger says she sees plenty of optimism.

“In architecture, if we don’t allow ourselves to visualize a condition that is different than the current condition, then we really cut off how we will impact the future,” she says.

For Forman, that consists of fomenting a new type of border culture.

“Citizenship,” she says, “is not an identity card. It’s about coexisting and building a city together.”"
teddycruz  fonnaforman  carolinamiranda  border  borders  us  california  mexico  sandiego  tijuana  texas  arizona  newmexico  2018  venicebiennale  architecture  citizenship  politicalequator  geography  geopolitics  mimizeiger  annlui  afrofuturism  architects  mexus  walls  nature  watersheds  land  maps  mapping  territory  ybca 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Reasons To Be Cheerful
"I’m starting an online project here that is an continuation and extension of some writing and talks I’ve done recently.

The project will be cross-platform—some elements may appear on social media, some on a website and some might manifest as a recording or performance… much of the published material will be collected here.

What is Reasons To Be Cheerful?

I imagine, like a lot of you who look back over the past year, it seems like the world is going to Hell. I wake up in the morning, look at the paper, and go, "Oh no!" Often I’m depressed for half the day. It doesn’t matter how you voted on Brexit, the French elections or the U.S. election—many of us of all persuasions and party affiliations feel remarkably similar.

As a kind of remedy and possibly as a kind of therapy, I started collecting good news that reminded me, "Hey, there's actually some positive stuff going on!" Almost all of these initiatives are local, they come from cities or small regions who have taken it upon themselves to try something that might offer a better alternative than what exits. Hope is often local. Change begins in communities.

I will post thoughts, images and audio relating to this initiative on whichever platform seems suitable and I’ll welcome contributions from others, if they follow the guidelines I’ve set for myself.

These bits of good news tend to fall into a few categories:

Civic Engagement

Culture, music and the arts might include, optimistically, some of my own work and projects, but just as much I hope to promote the work of others that has a proven track record.

Why do I do this? Why take the time? Therapy, I guess, though once in awhile I meet someone who has the connections and skills but might not be aware of some of these initiatives and innovations, so I can pass the information on. I sense that not all of this is widely known.

Emulation of successful models- 4 guidelines

I laid out 4 guidelines as I collected these examples:

1. Most of the good stuff is local. It’s more bottom up, community and individually driven. There are exceptions.

2. Many examples come from all over the world, but despite the geographical and cultural distances in many cases others can adopt these ideas—these initiatives can be utilized by cultures other than where they originated.

3. Very important. All of these examples have been tried and proven to be successful. These are not merely good IDEAS; they’ve been put into practice and have produced results.

4. The examples are not one-off, isolated or human interest, feel-good stories. They’re not stories of one amazing teacher, doctor, musician or activist- they’re about initiatives that can be copied and scaled up.

If it works, copy it

For example, in an area I know something about, there was an innovative bike program in Bogota, and years later, I saw that program become a model for New York and for other places.

The Ciclovia program in Bogota"
davidbyrne  politics  urban  urbanism  bogotá  curitiba  addiction  portugal  colombia  brazil  brasil  jaimelerner  cities  society  policy  qualityoflife  economics  drugs  health  healthcare  crime  ciclovia  bikes  biking  bikesharing  activism  civics  citybike  nyc  medellín  afroreggae  vigariogeral  favelas  obesity  childabuse  education  casamantequilla  harlem  civicengagment  engagement  women'smarch  northcarolina  ingridlafleur  afrotopia  detroit  seattle  citizenuniversity  tishuanajones  sunra  afrofuturism  stlouis  vancouver  britishcolumbia  transportation  publictransit  transit  velib  paris  climatechange  bipartisanship  energy  science  technology  culture  music  art  arts  behavior  medellin 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Nnedi Okorafor: Sci-fi stories that imagine a future Africa | TED Talk |
""My science fiction has different ancestors -- African ones," says writer Nnedi Okorafor. In between excerpts from her "Binti" series and her novel "Lagoon," Okorafor discusses the inspiration and roots of her work -- and how she opens strange doors through her Afrofuturist writing."
nnediokorafor  2017  scifi  sciencefiction  afrofuturism  binti  futurism 
november 2017 by robertogreco
'Challenging the narrative' of African art - BBC News
"Historically, Ilha de Luanda - a sandspit off the shore of the Angolan capital of Luanda - was a fisherman's village.

Now it's the centre of the city's thriving art scene; artists there are encouraged to move away from traditional depictions of African society."
angola  luanda  art  atists  ilhadaluanda  bineldehyrcan  taxidermy  paulokussy  afrofuturism 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Parable Of The Sower – Not 1984 – Is The Dystopia For Our Age – Nnedi Okorafor
"Following US President Donald Trump’s inauguration, George Orwell’s classic dystopia 1984 jumped to number one on Amazon’s list of best-selling books, just the latest sign of the genre’s current popularity.

But Nigerian-American World Fantasy Award winner Nnedi Okorafor said 1984 is not the dystopia that feels most relevant to her at this point in history. “After everything that happened, I’m not reading 1984, I’m not reading Fahrenheit 451, I’m not reading A Handmaid’s Tale. I’m reading Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. I feel like if we’re looking for any answers or where we’re going, it’s definitely in Octavia’s work.”

Speaking to The Stream on Al Jazeera, Okorafor read from the African-American novelist’s 1998 sequel, the Nebula-winning Parable of the Talents, which features a presidential candidate, Andrew Steele Jarret, who rises to power by promising, like Trump, to “make America great again,” and whose supporters are known to form mobs to burn and feather and tar those who don’t “quite match Jarret’s version of Christianity.”

Okorafor added that “the definition of dystopia depends on the group of people.” The Stream host, Femi Oke, used the regular power cuts in Nigeria as an example, saying, “Not having regular power could be the end of civilisation if you live in Brooklyn but not if you live in Abuja.”

New York Times bestselling Chinese-American author Marie Lu agrees. She lived in Beijing at the time of the Tiananmen Square protests, a period most in the West would have described as dystopian, but says during her time there it felt “like that’s just everyday life.”

Utopias for some are normally dystopias for others. Ron Charles, the fiction editor for The Washington Post, recounts a conversation with a professor of American-American literature. “She said what’s so interesting to her is that white people always think of dystopias as looking forward into this scary future, but black Americans can look back. They’ve already come through their dystopia. They had 200 years of horror and slavery. All the kinds of things we imagine the future dystopia being like are what black Americans already went through.”

Lu takes this further, saying, “There has never been a time in which we have not been living through a dystopia.”

Okorafor’s novels have been described as both dystopian and Afrofuturism, but she doesn’t see a contradiction in the terms. “Afrofuturism isn’t always upbeat,” she says. “A lot of it is in response to the darkness and trying to show the light but a lot of it goes dark… Afrofuturism is very diverse, so pinning it down to being focused on upliftment and being positive is a little short-sighted.”

Asked about what she’s currently working on, Okorafor said she is editing a “not so dark” novel called Remote Control, set in the future in Ghana, dealing with both technology and mysticism.

Watch the full discussion, which also features Dakar-based photographer Fabrice Monteiro, at "

[video: ]
dystopia  nnediokorafor  marielu  roncharles  afrofuturism  fabricemonteiro  femioke  2017  present  future  optimism  utopia  1984  georgeorwell  octaviabutler  parableofthesower  civilization 
february 2017 by robertogreco
Black to the Future - Saint Heron
"February… the 28 days where we celebrate the overabundance of Black excellence throughout time. Always looking ahead however, the art world has declared the next four weeks, Black Future Month. From lectures to gallery shows, the focus is where we are going while injecting ourselves into the otherworldly.

With her amazing Super Bowl performance Sunday night, icon Missy Elliot is seemingly in everyone’s tweets right now. In thinking of afrofuturist artists though, her name is often lost in between the Octavia Butlers and Sun Ras of the world. For many of us, millenial R&B was our first introduction to the idea of Blacks existing beyond the now. Missy, Timberland, and Busta Rhymes made the sound while Hype Williams created the visuals.

Joining in on the celebration of Black Future Month, check out some of our favorite afrofuturistic videos."
afrofuturism  music  video  2015 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Africa Has Always Been Sci-Fi | Literary Hub
"As Afrofuturism has begun to migrate back to the motherland in earnest, the same relative dearth continues to plague theorists and writers. Even Mark Bould, whose introduction to Paradoxa’s issue on African science fiction offers a comprehensive if nebulous syllabus, implies that it is nascent: “If African sf has not arrived, it is certainly approaching fast.” The appearance of a deluge—a trend, a fad—is in effect a trickle. Is this just what happens when you cross blackness with futurity? As Dery asks of African Americans, “Can a community whose past has been deliberately rubbed out, and whose energies have subsequently been consumed by the search for legible traces of its history, imagine possible futures?” Or is this lack specific to African literature, where energies might seem to be better directed toward, say, political critique of corruption, poverty, disease, and unemployment?

Nnedi Okorafor, born in the United States to Nigerian immigrants, both bridges this breach and fills it. She appears on lists of black sci-fi on either side of the Atlantic. And while she says that she has “issues with [the label] Afrofuturism,” she is one of the most prolific black writers of speculative fiction out there, and has set several of her fantasy and science fiction novels on the continent. Okorafor, in other words, is Afropolitan and African American: she insists that her “flavor of sci-fi is evenly Naijamerican (note: ‘Naija’ is slang for Nigeria or Nigerian).” Yet in an essay on the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America website, Okorafor herself bemoans the scant canon:
Here’s my list of “African SF.” It’s really short … How do I define African SF? I don’t. I know it when I see it … The main fact is that this list DOES exist. Africans ARE writing their own science fiction, contrary to what some may think. But the fact is that Africans need to also write more of it.

When building a canon, the question of inclusion becomes paramount. If the African v. African American debate seems unduly academic or divisive, just imagine when the question of race comes in: what does it mean, as Okorafor notes, that the first major African science fiction film, District 9, was directed by a white South African? In another essay, “Is Africa Ready for Science Fiction?,” Okorafor cites two experts—a Nollywood director and a scholar of African fiction—who both essentially say no. Though she is more optimistic on the question, Okorafor explains: “In Africa, science fiction is still perceived as not being real literature. It is not serious writing.… African audiences don’t feel that science fiction is really concerned with what’s real, what’s present. It’s not tangible.”

But to take the intangible, the unreal, the absent and make of them a world is precisely the mandate of science fiction. In his remarkable ur-Afrofuturist film Space is the Place (1974), Sun Ra, adorned in Egyptian regalia, travels to Oakland, CA to recruit black folk to colonize the planet Saturn. Like some kind of intergalactic Marcus Garvey, he wants to “set up a colony for black people … bring them here through transmolecularization … or teleport the whole planet here … through music.” He tells dissipated hipsters at the local youth center: “I’m not real. I’m just like you. You don’t exist in this society. If you did, your people wouldn’t be seeking equal rights. You’re not real. If you were, you’d have some status among the nations of the world. So we’re both myths. I do not come to you as a reality. I come to you as the myth. Because that’s what black people are, myths.” Afrofuturism’s insight is to elide the African diaspora with outer space as loci of blackness, roiling vats of inky, rich, infinite potential. The etymology of utopia, after all, is ou + topos, or not + place. Introducing himself to a wino, Sun Ra cryptically declaims: “I am everything and nothing.”"
nnediokorafor  afrofuturism  scifi  sciencefiction  africa  2016  afropolitan  dieantwoord  southafrica  sunra  samueldelany  lagos  markdery  nigeria  district9  speculativefiction 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Digital Manifesto Archive
"This collection aggregates manifestos concerned with making as a subpractice of the digital humanities."

"This archive is an academic resource dedicated to aggregating and cataloging manifestos that fall under two basic criteria. 1) The Digital Manifesto Archive features manifestos that focus on the political and cultural dimensions of digital life. 2) The Digital Manifesto Archive features manifestos that are written, or are primarily disseminated, online.

The manifesto genre is, by definition, timely and politically focused. Further, it is a primary site of political, cultural, and social experimentation in our contemporary world. Manifestos that are created and disseminated online further this experimental ethos by fundamentally expanding the character and scope of the genre.

Each category listed on the archive is loosely organized by theme, political affiliation, and (if applicable) time period. While the political movements and affiliations of the manifestos archived in each category are not universal, each category does try to capture a broad spectrum of political moods and actions with regard to its topic.

This site is meant to preserve manifestos for future research and teaching. The opinions expressed by each author are their own.

This archive was created by Matt Applegate. Our database and website was created by Graham Higgins (gwhigs). It is maintained by Matt Applegate and Yu Yin (Izzy) To
You can contact us at

This project is open source. You can see gwhigs' work for the site here: Digital Manifesto Archive @"
manifestos  digital  digitalhumanities  archives  making  mattapplegate  yuyin  designfiction  criticalmaking  engineering  capitalism  feminism  hacking  hacktivism  digitalmarkets  digitaldiaspora  internetofthings  iot  cyberpunk  mediaecology  media  publishing  socialmedia  twitter  ethics  digitalculture  piracy  design  bigdata  transhumanism  utopianism  criticaltheory  mediaarchaeology  opensource  openaccess  technofeminism  gaming  digitalaesthetics  digitaljournalism  journalism  aesthetics  online  internet  web  technocracy  archaeology  education  afrofuturism  digitalart  art  blogging  sopa  aaronswartz  pipa  anarchism  anarchy 
february 2016 by robertogreco
INVISIBLE UNIVERSE – a history of blackness in speculative fiction
"In 2003, independent filmmaker, M. Asli Dukan, set out to make a documentary about the 150 year history of Black creators in speculative fiction (SF) books and movies. What she didn’t realize at the time was that she was about to document a major movement in the history of speculative fiction. A movement where a growing number of Black creators were becoming an effective force, creating works that had increasing influence on the traditionally, straight, white, cis-male dominated SF industry. However, while these Black creators imagined better futures for Black people within their fictional works of SF, in reality, the everyday, lived experiences of Black people in the United States – e.g., the rise of massive inequality, the prison industrial complex, and police brutality – stood in stark contrast. She began to wonder if these phenomena were related.

Told through the ever-present lens and off-screen narrator voice of the filmmaker, Invisible Universe will explore this question by examining the work of Black creators of SF through the ideology of the emerging Black Lives Matter movement, which addresses the systematic oppression of Black lives. Since she began the documentary, the filmmaker has compiled an extensive interviewee list of Black writers, artists and filmmakers of SF who have been creating works where Black people not only exist in the future, but are powerful shapers of their own realities, whether in magical lands, dystopian settings, or on distant worlds. In addition, she has documented an ever-increasing number of academic, community and arts events dedicated to the work and critical analysis of Black SF, as well as building connections between the creators, thinkers, organizers and fans. In the past decade, the filmmaker has documented the cultural shift around Black SF and its explicit connections to Black liberation. This documentary explores the idea that in a world of capitalist exploitation, anti-Black oppression and state violence, Black creators are speculating better worlds as a means of resistance and survival.

The documentary will also consider how “Black Speculation” is rooted in the history of “Black Struggle” in the United States by exploring two previous eras of Black creators speculating about Black lives through the genres of SF. The first era occurred during the nadir of African American history in late 19th and early 20th centuries, when slavery, war, lynchings, race riots, disfranchisement and segregation inspired Black writers to pen narratives about international slave rebellions, secret, Black governments and powerful, long lost, African kingdoms. The second era occurred during the 1960’s and early 1970’s, when the work of Black writers of SF seemed to extrapolate on the possible futures that would occur as a result of the successes or failures of the Civil Rights or Black Power struggles. This documentary will explore how this current moment, which the filmmaker considers the third era of Black Speculation, compares and contrasts with the earlier two eras.

This timely documentary includes rare interviews with Black writers of SF like Samuel R. Delany, the late Octavia E. Butler, Steven Barnes, Tananarive Due, Nalo Hopkinson and Nnedi Okorafor, actors like Nichelle Nichols and Wesley Snipes, cultural organizers like Rasheedah Phillips and the AfroFuturist Affair, academics/artists like John Jennings and Nettrice Gaskins, social justice workers/artists like adrienne maree brown and Walidah Imarisha, as well as numerous other filmmakers, artists, academics, archivists, and fans. This one-of-a-kind project is essentially an archive of a “Who’s Who” of Black speculative fiction."
blackness  speculativefiction  sciencefiction  scifi  invisibleuniverse  film  documentary  maslidukan  octaviabutler  stevenbarnes  tananarivedue  nalohopkinson  nnediokorafor  nichellenichols  wesleysnipes  rasheedahphillip  afrofuturism  afrofuturistaffair  adrienne  mareebrown  walidahimarisha  johnjennings  nettricegaskins  history 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Battle Cry of the Android
"Black people cannot time travel. Every comedian has a joke about this.

On a July episode of the BuzzFeed podcast Another Round, hosts Tracy Clayton and Heben Nigatu play a game that, they joke, was clearly written by white people because of the multitude of time travel questions. “Only white people love time travel,” Nigatu says. In a standup bit, Louis C.K. calls time travel an exclusively white privilege. “Here’s how great it is to be white,” he says. “I can get in a time machine and go to any time, and it would be fucking awesome when I get there!” A recent MTV Decoded sketch imagines that in a black version of Back to the Future, the DeLorean would never have left the mall parking lot. “Nineteen-fifty-five?” black Marty McFly asks. “You know what, Doc? I think I’m actually good right here.”

I laugh at these jokes, although their premise is devastating: a vision of blackness where suffering is continuous and inevitable. We can imagine a fantastical world where time travel is possible, yet we cannot conceive of any point in the past, or even the future, where black people can live free. In this line of thought, the present is the best life has ever been for black people, and perhaps the best it will ever be.

Into this grim possibility arrives Janelle Monáe. Monáe first captivated me in her 2010 video “Tightrope,” where, in the bleakness of a notorious insane asylum, the tuxedoed and pompadoured singer glides like James Brown over funky horns. Although her sound and image harken back to classic soul, her music contains a mythology that looks toward the future. Her EP Metropolis and albums The ArchAndroid and The Electric Lady follow Cindi Mayweather, an android living in the year 2719 who falls in love with a human and is sentenced to disassembly. Cindi later rises as the ArchAndroid, a messianic figure who provides hope that androids may someday be liberated. The sprawling, multi-project narrative can be difficult to follow, but the futuristic world she imagines echoes our own. “When I speak about the android, it’s the other,” she told LGBTQ newspaper Between the Lines. “You can parallel that to the gay community, to the black community, to women.” To Monáe, the android—part human, part robot, never fully either—represents the outsider. To visit her futuristic world of Metropolis is to encounter characters who face discrimination, as well as to imagine their liberation.

For interviews, Monáe has frequently remained in character as Cindi Mayweather, visitor from the future. (When asked about her sexuality in Rolling Stone, she refused to label herself and insisted she only dates androids.) In February 2015, she announced her new label, the Atlanta-based Wondaland Records, which hosts a collection of eclectic black artists who, like Monáe, seem to exist outside of time. At the Wondaland showcase during the BET Experience, Monáe described St. Beauty as “flower children,” Roman GianArthur as “another Freddie Mercury.” Her best-known artist, Jidenna, dropped the hit single “Classic Man” earlier this year, but baffled audiences with his three-piece suits, ascots, and canes. To FADER, Jidenna explained that he was inspired by the style of freedmen in the Jim Crow South: “I wear a suit because I need to remember what’s happened before me.” In Wondaland, style is radicalized, fashion a form of political resistance.

What does it mean to borrow the fashions of Reconstruction, an era in which no sensible black person, given time-traveling technology, would want to visit? Or to imagine a futuristic world where an android faces bigotry similar to our reality? Wondaland’s music is melodic, funky, and fun, as well as undeniably political. At the showcase, Monáe repeatedly referred to her record label as a “movement” and spoke about the responsibility she feels toward her community. Similarly, Wondaland artists have been outspoken critics of police brutality, leading marches against police violence and, in August, dropping the protest anthem “Hell You Talmbout (Say Their Names).” Against urgent drums and a choir of voices, Monáe, Jidenna, St. Beauty, Roman GianArthur, and Deep Cotton chant the names of black victims of police violence, from Emmett Till and Sean Bell to Michael Brown and Sandra Bland. The song is difficult to listen to, a seemingly endless list of names that the Wondaland artists—voices strained with anger and grief—urge us to remember. Say their names. The song is a battle cry, and in a war against black suffering, memory is the weapon.

In Wondaland, time travel is never an escape from the plights of contemporary black life. Instead, by floating through time, by playing with the tropes of the past, by inventing new mythologies and new futures, Monáe and her artists expand the possibilities of black art and showcase the complexity of black lives, its struggles and its triumphs. Wondaland artists are in our time but not of it, and there’s something beautifully resistant about this. Black people liberated from time itself, imagining ourselves anywhere."
2015  afrofuturism  tracyclayton  hebennigatu  timetravel  janellemonáe  fashion  wondaland  reconstruction  jidenna  freedmen  south  jimcrow  romangianarthur  stbeauty  cindimayweather  future  futurism  srg  wondalandrecords 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Artbound Episode: The Mundane Afrofuturist Manifesto | Los Angeles | Artbound | KCET
"Artbound episode "The Mundane Afrofuturist Manifesto" delves into a new theory of the Black aesthetic in the 21st century. Created in collaboration with the award-winning creative studio Ways and Means, along with artist and filmmaker Martine Syms, the hour-long special examines the tension between conventional channels of media distribution and the Black imagination.

Through a close reading of works by four Southern California artists engaged with problems of representation, the program walks through their artistic and creative processes as well as inspirations. In-depth interviews with novelist Tisa Bryant, musician/producer Delroy Edwards, film programmer Erin Christovale and visual artist Nicole Miller are featured."
2015  afrofuturism  martinesyms  art  nicolemiller  tisabryant  delroyedwards  erinchristovale  blackart  muisc  video  california  socal  losangeles 
december 2015 by robertogreco
INTERVIEWS - Black Girls Talking
"Creating a space to show films which document the future from a non-western, non-white and queer perspective, that was the desire behind THE FUTURE WEIRD a film screening series co-founded by Derica Shields and Megan Eardley that explores experimental, speculative and sci-fi films from Africa, the Global South or directed by people of color. We discussed this project with Derica Shields, as well as the concept of what is weird, and whether the future should be saved. — interviewed by Fanta"

"SHIELDS: Weird means unruly, uncontained, and situated outside of the mainstream, or at an awkward angle to it. Weird is the creative invention of the marginalised majority. It’s like, people from populations who are exposed to destitution and premature death and organised abandonment are making things. I’m not trying to say that every black, brown, woman or queer filmmaker is from an abject social position, but currently our systems of recognition still fail to register black, brown, queer, trans work as work, or art as art, or thinking as thinking. With The Future Weird I want people to get in a room and talk about the work itself, not just to “celebrate” it in this liberal way which is like a pat on the head, but to say “hey we recognise your art/work/thinking and we are here to talk and think about it.”

The word weird also invites invention and reimagination rather than acceptance of the terms already on offer. Weird means an end to bargaining for inclusion on other people’s terms, and in turn, struggling towards your own terms for art, thought, politics, prosperity…. As a younger person I was definitely weird, but I as I got older I increasingly caved to the discipline of fancy universities, I stopped being weird, which meant that I stopped demanding what seemed impossible. But imagining and then demanding what seems impossible is so powerful, especially when our world is so inadequate and deadly."
dericashields  futurism  scifi  sciencefiction  2014  afrofuturism  futureweird  weird  film  filmmaking 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Afro Boho Snob | Black People Willing Themselves into the Future, The Growing Popularity of Afrofuturism
"Lately there has been so much discourse across the interwebs about Afrofuturism. Until a couple of years ago, I had never heard the word Afrofuturism but in the context of current racial strife and marginalization of Black people and Black culture, or as Azealia Banks boldly called it, "cultural smudging", it seems to be a concept that is more prescient than ever.

Just what is Afrofuturism?

If I could distill it down to plain terms, Afrofuturism is a conscious movement by writers, creators, musicians, visual artists, and art curators to make sure that Black people have a place in futuristic imaginative worlds in lierature and art, but incorporating Black aesthetic and history while doing so. Essentially, it is a movement willing Black people into the future through our own lens.

The Progenitors of Afrofuturism

Many credit writer Mark Dery with coining the term Afrofuturism in his 1993 essay Black to the Future: Interviews with Samuel Delaney, Greg Tate and Tricia Rose:

“African-Americans are, in a very real sense, the descendants of alien abductees. They inhabit a sci-fi nightmare in which unseen but no less impassable force fields of intolerance frustrate their movements; official histories undo what has been done to them; and technology, be it branding, forced sterilization, the Tuskegee experiment, or tasers, is too often brought to bear on black bodies.”

—Mark Dery, Black to the Future

Other progenitors of Afrofuturism include:

Author, Octavia Butler

Musician, Sun Ra

Songrwriter/Conceptualist, George Clinton

The Artwork of Comic artist Pedro Bell

Why is Afrofuturism catching on?

One of my favorite figures in this Afrofuturist movement is Ingrid Lafleur.

I reached out to her to ask her if indeed the movement is growing and what were her thoughts in general around Afrofuturism.

Ms Lafleur says "I really enjoy looking at Afrofuturism through the lens of spirit science. References to cosmology, and all her various forms, shows up often quite across genres. After some research and remembering, I realized that a cosmic consciousness was always present within ancient African history and beyond. Those occupying black bodies continuously call upon that collective cultural memory embedded within us in order to not only continue the tradition and remain centered, but also to resist and heal from oppressive forces.

Afrofuturism has now become a catch-all phrase to all things black and speculative. The labeling of this particular aesthetic has helped create a tighter community of those who enjoy the speculative realm and an easier way to find even more material to engage. The Afrofuturist community has always existed, but the internet has helped it grow and provide space to really investigate, discuss and revel in other dimensions. This is evident in the number of clubs, organizations, conferences, screenings, talks, exhibitions and projects (such as my own) inspired by Afrofuturism and Octavia Butler."

Who are the people currently incorporating Afrofuturism into their literature and art?

Robert Pruitt [ ]

Janelle Monae [ ]

Rasheedah Phillips [!creative-rasheedah-phillips/c12fw ]

Ingrid Lafleur [ ]

Ytasha Womack [ ]

We are even seeing the emergence of parties and events themed around Afrofuturism from Atlanta to Philadelphia.


Perhaps it is, that as Black people around the world continue to struggle and continue not to see themselves in mainstream media, Afrofuturism will continue to gain in popularity as a form of futuristic escapism.

Here are a few links to explore more about Afrofuturism

Finally, a shout out to Mike Street of my Ad Fam Facebook group for telling me about this 1995 storytelling masterpiece tackling the subject of Afrofuturism, John Akomfrah's The Last Angel of History

Click this link to watch: "
afrofuturism  futurism  ingridlefleur  2015  robertpruitt  janellemonae  rasheedahphillips  ytashawomack  octaviabutler  sunra  georgeclinton  pedrobell  markdery  samueldelaney  gregtate  triciarose  history  future 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Prelude to Afrofuture(s) | Jalada
[Main page: ]

"“Jalada Africa” is pan-African writers’ collective.

Our aim is to publish literature by African authors regularly by making it as easy as possible for any member to publish anything or execute any literary project as quickly and effectively as possible.

Jalada is non-hierarchical which is to say horizontal. Anyone aiming to pursue any project has only to convince as many members as are necessary to carry out the project. As such, Jalada emphasises cooperation and sustained collective effort.

Jalada is committed to gender parity.

Our first project is an anthology of short stories (loosely themed around insanity) published in January 2014.

Our next anthology will be published in May-June 2014. Subsequently we will publish new anthologies every quarter.

Comments, enquiries, and letters to the editors should be sent to: letters [at] jalada [dot] org "
afrofuturism  africa  literature  futurism  binyavangawainaina  moseskilolo  sofiasamatar  stephenderwentpartington  annemoraa  kipropkimutai  abduladan  marziyamohammedali  idzaluhumyo  katehampton  lindamusita  mukamikunga  ndindakioko  novuyotshuma  nyanakakoma  okwirioduor  wanjerigakuru  wambuiwairua  alexanderikawah  cliftoncachagua  kepropkimutai  mehulgohil  mwasmahugu  oduoroduku  richardali  tuelogabonewe  zakwaweru  jalada 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Africa's space oddities are transformed into fetishes | Arts and Culture | Mail & Guardian
"A peek into the enigma that is Afrofuturism shows differing views – from patronising to progressive of what it means to be black in the 21st century."

"Perhaps the key danger in defining Afrofuturism from the diaspora is that it fails to comprehend fully the forces at play on a dynamic and still misunderstood continent. Whereas “roots tourists” romanticise the heritage they yearn for and come in search of, they underestimate the oppressive grip it can retain on a continent that is unaccustomed to and thus often wary of change.

The supremacy of Western cultures over the centuries has undoubtedly played a key role in distorting, and even retarding, the evolution and progress of Africa’s innumerable cultures — and yet one dare not underestimate the complicit role that African conservatism plays in this process.

Those of us who live here are all too aware of the resistance to change from African authorities on a number of levels. Arts and culture ministries, for example, are often more invested in the preservation of a static heritage than in the more risky and less predictable possibilities of progress. Village elders who may have witnessed very little real change in their African lifestyles are likely to be all the more sceptical and resistant to it. And the esteemed role long-dead ancestors play as ritual consultants in daily decision-making, it can be argued, prohibits transition. They function, if anything, to retain an antiquated and often suffocating status quo.

While blackness, as Nelson asserts, may well have historically been constructed in opposition to technologically driven progress, she fails to recognise to what degree that handicap may be self-inflicted or perpetuated.

Is it really so surprising that communal, agrarian societies have little interest in the space race? Not only might the very thought of it seem absurd to them, its total contempt for the long-trusted limits of possibility wreaks potential anarchy on the hierarchical structures that hold them together.

Though it’s understandable that a language such as isiZulu would have no words for “rocket”, “astronaut” or even “planets”, the fact that “futurism” is an unknown and untranslatable concept is most telling.

The electric shiver of excitement we feel when we glimpse images of Afronauts or Afro-D2s set against glowing moonscapes lies in the implicit liberation from long-suffered taboos, and the resulting sense of relief is surely beyond exhilarating.

If this year’s Joburg Art Fair is anything to go by, Africa is on the verge of a youthquake, in which conventional wisdom may struggle to stand its ground against a swell of personal freedom and individual thought. Patronising as the term “blacks in space” may sound, in reality that privilege has been reserved for only 13 such souls in history — and all of them African-American.

I suspect there’s a baba sitting at a fireplace in some remote rural setting who is quite relieved to hear that. Only unfortunately, there’s a growing galaxy of bright young stars who are just as comfortable making digital art as they would be MMSing baba a zany and elated selfie from Pluto.

So hey, beam me up. The future is bright, black and beautiful."

[via: ]
adamlevin  afrofuturism  2014  africa  futurism 
december 2014 by robertogreco

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