Red Spring Part III: Afrofuturism & New Myths

By New York Live Arts

Out of the ‘cyclical chaos’ impacting Black lives, Black art, Black futures comes clarity, renewed strength and vision. Red Spring explores the circular nature of systemic racism and the public policies—public safety, health, and wealth—that adversely impact Black and indigenous communities.

Warriors (2020) by Creative Soul PhotographyNew York Live Arts

"I believe that science fiction is the folklore and mythology of our modern, technological society, and fantasy preserves the folklore and mythology of the past. Blacks have made significant contributions to modern culture - not just as athletes and entertainers, but in science and technology as well. We need to contribute to this culture's mythology and folklore because we are part of it, and it is part of us. If we do not define our own position in our culture's mythology, someone else will define it for us, and we probably won't like the way they do it."

—Charles R. Saunders(July 12, 1946 - May 2020) from Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora, 2000

Warriors (2020) by Creative Soul PhotographyNew York Live Arts

As the world unfolds and reveals itself all around us—Afrofuturism, the Black Speculative Arts, and other Futurisms offer a powerful lens for creative exploration and imagination. The artistic expressions that occupy this global, constantly evolving space are broad, playful, at turns ominous and optimistic. Black artists in the United States have penned, published, and performed proto-Afrofuturistic visions of liberation and imagination for over 160 years. The mythologies and cultures they have drawn upon are ancient and new.

Drawing upon the rich history and heritage of Africa and her diaspora, today artists from Africa and around the world create futurisms that reflect their journeys and vision, new mythologies across mediums and genres that speak of transcendence and flight, alternate worlds, and new ways of being. The most revolutionary aspect of this work is the same that made the historic extraordinary—the fact that Black communities survive and thrive, that they boldly exist, now and in the future.

Seated in Time (2020) by Shawn TheodoreNew York Live Arts

by M. James Cooper, 2021

This is some sci-fi Octavia Butler shit!
So yes we are included in this thing.
This thing called promise,
this thing called new-advancement.
But beware the green men, the reaching tentacles.
Guard your vessels, secure the air within,
point your laser-weapons for peace
will be restored by the close of last chapter.
Black diamond, black promise we reign undefeated,
headed to that new galaxy...

The Ooli Moves - Nicole Mitchell's Black Earth Ensemble (2014) by Black Earth EnsembleNew York Live Arts

Based on Octavia E. Butler’s Lilith’s Brood, “Xenogenesis” novels “The Ooli Moves” is a piece from Nicole Mitchell’s Black Earth Ensemble’s acclaimed avant-garde jazz album, Intergalactic Beings from FPE Records. The original Album reflects Mitchell’s admiration of Butler’s work as well as her own creative writing. This animation was created by the renowned multi genre artist, Adebukola Buki Bodunrin, whose award-winning fieldwork, videos, animation, and graphic design reflect an innovative approach to language, culture, and media. This afrofuturist music video explores themes of repulsion and desire in its interpretation of the hypnotic mating dance of the mysterious alien race Butler created, known as the Ooli.

Mino: A Diasporic Myth (2019) by Ashunda NorrisNew York Live Arts

Set in 2079 and written and directed by Ashunda Norris, MINO – A Diasporic Myth is at its heart the story of Black womyn, queer and non queer, who govern their world with a firm but noble hand, where men no longer exist. The Bia womyn keep their orb safe by only birthing female beings. When one woman new to the land attempts to self-conceive a non-female, the Coven is forced to confront their own belief systems.

Portrait of a Masterpiece (2020) by Shawn TheodoreNew York Live Arts

by M. James Cooper

Walk as slowly as you can.
Give your fantasies a chance to find you
& frame your reality;
Yes, a little to the left, just so.

Solitudes Requiem (2020) by Meighan MorsonNew York Live Arts

Afrofuturists reimagine old gods and journey beyond colonial borders, space, and time. They choreograph new movements and reexamine traditional narratives, excavating the past to observe the rhythms of our present. With an eye toward the future and an ear for the songs and lessons of the past, these artists create a sense of wonder and curiosity, recasting the challenges of today with new worlds, new heroes, and new adventures.

Red Leopard and the Lake of Fire (2019) by Street GeniusNew York Live Arts

Neva Be (2020) by Cudda MackNew York Live Arts

The Last Black Starfighter (2020) by Marcus KiserNew York Live Arts

Soul Nebula 1 (2020) by Dedren SneadNew York Live Arts

Soul Nebula 2 (2020) by Dedren SneadNew York Live Arts

Armadus One (2020) by Dedren SneadNew York Live Arts

Armadus 2 (2020) by Dedren SneadNew York Live Arts

Intergalactic Soul (2020) by Marcus KiserNew York Live Arts

Ekpe Abioto and the African Jazz Ensemble (2020) by Ekpe Abioto and the African Jazz EnsembleNew York Live Arts

Black on Black Love

When whole economies and national narratives are based on the devaluing of Black lives, Black unity and Black love are revolutionary acts. To love and prosper in the face of centuries-long plunder and exploitation, while bearing the brunt of real-time climate change, is no small feat or mere fantasy. Survival is key, but thriving is the ongoing dream. For what is the value of any imagined Afrofuture(s) if loving, compassionate, healthy, prosperous families and peaceful, abundant, justice-filled communities are not a foundation of that vision? In science fiction, an Africa with full autonomy and oversight of its own wealth and natural resources is a rare alternate future not often seen, but strong, optimistic, visionary thinkers on the continent and throughout her diaspora, rooted in the hope for themselves and their communities, work to imagine and build that future every day.

Warriors (2020) by Creative Soul PhotographyNew York Live Arts

"Our art is our record. It is a time capsule that we bury inside ourselves for ourselves. It is what we know is in our hearts, and we add to it with each new generation of creators."

from "Twenty-Five Years in a 500 Year Long Song" foreword by Sheree Renee Thomas, The Black Speculative Arts Movement: Black Futurity, Art + Design, edited by Reynaldo Anderson and Clint Fluker, 2019

Warriors (2020) by Creative Soul PhotographyNew York Live Arts

"Hidden in plain view, our cultural production contains coded messages. Whether it is material culture, in our music, songs, and choreography, or even in the scars on our backs, and the braid patterns in our hair, this coded language, hidden even in the mother tongues that we speak, is a body of a work that has been used over time to resist, to protest, to defend, to defeat those who would attempt to control our destinies."

from "Twenty-Five Years in a 500 Year Long Song" foreword by Sheree Renee Thomas, The Black Speculative Arts Movement: Black Futurity, Art + Design, edited by Reynaldo Anderson and Clint Fluker, 2019

Starlight Silhouette (2020) by Dacia J. PolkNew York Live Arts

Nebula (2020) by S. Ross BrowneNew York Live Arts

Credits: Story

Thank you to our Contributors

Ekpe Abioto
Ekpe Abioto and the African Jazz Ensemble
Black Earth Ensemble
Buki Bodunrin
S. Ross Browne
M. James Cooper
Creative Soul Photography
Intergalactic Soul
Nicole M. Mitchell
Meighan Morson
Ashunda Norris
Dedren Snead
Street Genius
Shawn Theodore

View all Contributors and bios HERE

Origin Story

Conceived by Reynaldo Anderson and Stacey Robinson of the Black Speculative Arts Movement and guest-curated by Sheree Renée Thomas, Danielle L. Littlefield, and Dacia Polk, this four-part exhibition brings together the voices and visions of artists from around the world. Created in the height of the Black Lives Matter movement and during an increasingly distressing international pandemic, this work responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, cyclical anti-Black violence, rising climate change that is having an immediate, real-time disastrous effect on communities of color, poor governance, trans-humanism, and an accelerating, technologically driven, predatory global economic system on the verge of collapse that intentionally exploits "undeveloped" nations for their natural resources around the world.

The visual art, music, animated shorts, graphic collages, photographs, stories, poems, and experimental explorations are representative of Afrofuturism in its many forms. From the streets to the academy, urban and rural, these works are intergenerational and intersectional, touching upon Ancestral Memory, Social and Civil Upheavals and Resistance, Afrofuturism and New Myths, Environmental Wildseeds and New BlackFutures.

These gifted artists continue to create and innovate during times that are challenging for everyone, but impact creative artists in specific ways. Their creations show that art is the language of humanity and that we need artistic expressions that excavate, reveal, translate, and extrapolate now more than ever. These border-crossing, genre-smashing works contain worlds within worlds. We invite you to take your time to enter these spaces from any entry point you choose. Inspired by the age-old tradition of speculative fiction, these works explore the role of memory, the power of resistance in the face of great adversity, the liberatory and revolutionary power of the imagination, the strength and resilience of the Black family, the wisdom of the elders, the joyful anachronistic and brilliance of cosplay, Wakandan and lolita, the resourcefulness of futuristic fashions from recycled treasures, and the imperative to explore new worlds, within ourselves, within each other, and here on earth and beyond, never ceasing, ever growing/going forward.

We offer our gratitude to each of these special artists for their contributions and time and for our partners, Bill T. Jones's NY LIVE ARTS, BSAM: The Black Speculative Arts Movement, particularly BSAM St. Louis, BSAM Memphis, BSAM Canada, Vescent Design, Black Pot Mojo Arts, Neighborhood Heroes, Afroflux, Afro_Futures UK, The Afrofuturist Affair, Gerardo Castro, Black Kirby, NubiaMancy, Kaos Network, Blerd City Con, Octavia E. Butler Legacy Network, Zion Network, and Google Arts & Culture. For more artworks, visit and @bsamstl on Instagram.

Credits: All Media
The visual art, music, stories, poems, videos, and essays may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed above, who have supplied the content.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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