Moving on the Wires: Black to the Future Series


Tempestt Hazel, curator of The Future’s Past exhibition and executive director of the Chicago Arts Archive: A Sixty Inches From Center Project is doing a series on Afrofuturism and Afrosurrealism. Two of her first interviewees were visual artist Krista Franklin and Afrosurrealist creator D. Scott Miller. This is the beginning of Franklin’s interview:

What is AfroFuturism and AfroSurrealism?  The art historian in me finds it exciting to be in the middle of a rapidly advancing movement that is all at once undefined but unmistakable in presence, expanding and unfolding, and setting the tone for new waves in art, music, fashion and cultural production at all levels. The chapters of most art history textbooks I’ve come across have made it clear: our understanding of art and how it fits into a historical context is often shaped by historian-identified movements that are pinpointed late in the game or in hindsight. With these things in mind, I have borrowed the title of cultural critic Mark Dery’s essay to create the Black To The Future Series–a series of interviews that pose questions to several artists who have identified their work as AfroFuturist and/or AfroSurreal with the hopes of allowing the practitioners to be at the center of determining what it is.

Though the philosophies behind these movements have been around for quite some time and at the heart of some circles for nearly a century, AfroFuturism and the AfroSurreal have increasingly gained momentum in the last decade or so.  They seem to have found new nourishment through artists who have stepped forward to add fresh stems and leaves to the roots established by legends such as Amiri Baraka, Sun Ra and countless other foremothers and forefathers. This has resulted in the conceptually abysmal and beautifully rendered work landing on radar of larger institutions, being the subject of exploration by some noted art theorists, and being woven into the fabric of major exhibitions. 

But the truth of any artistic movement and what makes this moment one to be savored, in my opinion, is an age-old one. Movements don’t start on the walls of museums. They begin on the ground with electrifying dialogue in intimate spaces, on the walls of homes, studios and off-the-radar galleries, and during the of off-the-cusp performances by those pushing new limits, exploring new territories and attempting to capture the transcendental at the edge of comprehension.  Chicago is rich in this right now if you know where to look

Read the rest of Krista Franklin’s interview

Read D. Scott Miller’s interview

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