Many go to church on Sundays for inspirational music and message, but last Sunday I was at the Moondance event at MOMA’s PS1 in Queens for them. Organized by DJ King Britt, the event, which took place in tent dome, featured several DJs, several musical performances, poetry and a discussion on Afrofuturism. The afrofuturistic event was filled with the interplay between fragments of past and future – D. Sabela Grimes dance performance consisting of an alien-like yet ghostly kind of ritual masquerade, soul and electronic music (“my soul system”), and cultural black performance and language with futuristic wording; DJs Hank Shocklee (of Public Enemy), HPrizm, Ras G, King Britt and Fhoston Paradigm pulling from a vast array of musical sounds to quilt together new works and Shabazz Palaces‘ combination of electronic and acoustic drum sounds; Ursula Rucker‘s Black Arts Movement-inspired word mysticism brought together social issues like the death of Trayvon Martin, honoring Amiri Baraka, and connecting spiritual hymns and sexuality.
This was all reinforced in the panel discussion moderated by Afrofuturism author Ytasha Womack, and included Britt, Rucker, Shocklee and Alondra Nelson. Womack described Afrofuturism as where the future meets the past; it facilitates that healing where we feel may have been a break between the two in modern culture. She continued by asking about the notion of race as technology and how afrofuturism is a tool to deconstruct race, how afrofuturism cultivates imagination to transcend circumstance especially in marginalized communities where imagination is under attack and how music is a gateway to understanding afrofuturism.