Tawiah – “TEARdrop”
Zebra Katz – “Y I Do”
*Black Science Fiction Film Festival on February 7th in Atlanta, Georgia. Watch clip below:
*The Alien Bodies: Race, Space and Sex in the African Diaspora Conference will be taking place at Emory University on February 8-9 in Atlanta Georgia. Sadly, I won’t be there, but at least it will be recorded for later viewing. Also, after the conference, there will be a Music from the Mothership: Sonic Event at Emory Dobbs University Center.
Ramel Jasir began his painting career in 2006 after a friend advised him to start as a way to deal with some stressful events in his life. As a self-taught artist, he describes (click on the link to see his interview) his art as his “ever-evolving voice in color.” Taking influences from indigenous art found in cultures all over the world, he creates a variety of artwork including realist, abstract, collage and even cartoonish.
Adelaide Damoah began her artwork as a way to help her with her battle with endometriosis. Basing her work on surrealist principles and artists like Frida Kahlo, Damoah expresses her feelings about herself and the world around her through her art. “When I paint, I feel free, I feel transported into another dimension where time does not matter,” Damoah said in her biography. In her haunting and fantastical pieces, Damoah alters or distorts bodily features, whether it is changing the skin color of a subject, emphasizing the gaunt figures of some of today’s models or creating alien-like figures with one eye. In addition to her own artwork, Damoah also interviews other artists in her Art Success series.
“Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.” – Frank Zappa
Since my blog does cover the African diaspora through both Afrofuturist and Afrosurrealist lens, I wanted to bring Afrosurrealism more into the picture. Afrosurrealism does not have as much articles on it as Afrofuturism does, but I want to show the connections between the two based on the Afrosurrealism Manifesto.
One afrofuturist I follow is afrovisionary (I know, so much afro!) and the name had me thinking about what is a visionary. Then I thought about the word itself with its root word, “vision” and its definition. The word visionary has both futuristic and surreal elements in it. A visionary is one who has “unusual foresight and imagination.” Visionaries envision or speculate about not only possible futures, but also envision invisible worlds, dream worlds, and the supernatural or paranormal. They can see beyond worlds that already exist or are visible.
Jaszmine Asha Hawkins is a New Jersey-based visual artist whose artwork is vibrantly and beautifully unusual with her “big-lipped” and “alien-looking” figures. Currently she is looking for galleries who will showcase her work. For more information about her and to contact Hawkins, visit on her facebook or twitter page.
Below is a 1926 poem by Jamaican-American poet Claude McKay, called “My Home.” It contains, I believe, some of the elements from both afrofuturism and afrosurrealism:
Last week, I attended the Afrofuturism exhibition at MoCADA before it closed. This was my first time at the museum and walking in, I did not know what to expect, but afterwards I was greatly impressed. Looking at the artwork, it was easy to forget that these pieces were created by people who are still in grade school. As part of a program in which MoCADA works with schools and students to do an exhibition each year, the art pieces included paintings, collages, photography, and sculpture. Although all the works were artistically compelling, the ones that stood out to me were the Elemental visual poem and the fable stories by the elementary school students. The visual poem, which was influenced by Dogon religion and mythology, combined photography (regular and multiple exposure) with words of wisdom based on the four elements earth, water, fire and air. These are two of my favorite quotes from the poem:
Earth: Anything you lose comes back around in another form
Air: Clear glass equally mirrors wisdom and madness.
The second piece I enjoyed was a jungle scene with a variety of wild animals and on the walls were four short stories about an elephant, lion, tiger and frog on Saturn in the year 5072. The part that interested me about these stories is that these were typical fables about animals — how the elephant received its tusks, the tiger its stripes, the lion its roar and the frog its jump — but the set in the future on another planet. In a sense, the idea of a fable became timeless despite the change in setting.
As I discussed with Dr. Sionne Neely from Accra dot Alt, who I met at the exhibition, it is incredible that concepts about afrofuturism are being introduced into schools already and these students are learning about artists like Sun Ra and Afrika Bambaataa as well as mixing elements of art, science and technology to create innovative pieces. We both wished we had this while growing up. After the exhibition, I also picked up a couple of books (being the nerd I am) Diaspora Diaries: An Educator’s Guide to MoCADA Artists and Danny Simmon‘s I Dreamed My People Were Calling But I Couldn’t Find My Way Home. Below are some more pictures I took before I left:
…There is always a sort of underlying violence embedded in each of the pieces she creates. Affirmative fears, archetypal dogmas and the stigmata of war are all woven into one highly elaborate composition. The results are overpowering metaphors that often puts the viewer in a state of catatonic bliss, halfway between sheer avoidance and not being able to confront the subject directly.
Mutu‘s art is a constant stimulus on how children of the diaspora are able to successfully merge parts of their African roots with elements of Western culture. The confrontation between African identity and predominance of Western culture remains a central point in Mutu’s work. Often the ghosts of Josephine Baker or Eartha Kitt (two of her favoured muses) come to haunt her. She is also intrigued by modern icons the likes of Grace Jones. These women were all forced to reinvent themselves as new hybrid “alien” creatures largely based on Western stereotypes; however, they were able to turn their caricatural characters into powerful maces of protest against the myth of white supremacy.
“Camouflage and mutation are 2 important themes in my work, but the idea I’m most enamoured with is the notion that transformation can help us to transcend our predicament. We all wear costumes when we set out for battle. The language of body alteration is a powerful inspiration. I think part of my interest in this comes from being an immigrant but I’ve also always been interested in how people perform and maneuver among one another.”
Although European and Western development are still perceived as the pinnacle of civilization, history has clearly uncovered their failure to address the obvious atrocities…
Read the rest by clicking the link above.
What is the opposite of future shock? Is it root shock? This is the latest performance from artist and dancer Ni’ Ja Whitson. Whitson puts contemporary and postmodern dance and art performance within an African diasporic context. Her work, Root Shock, re-imagines Yoruba diasporic and Orisa storytelling traditions, and explores the relationship between trauma and the ancestral and spiritual world. Watch an interview with her here.