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.
Alien (2020) by Mawhyah MiltonNew York Live Arts
"How far would we have to travel to find the remnants
of what was once a healthy and vigorous people?”
Wildseed by Octavia E. Butler
In Octavia E. Butler’s novel, Wildseed, Anyanwu is an African healer and shapeshifter, whose unique powers allow her to extend her life, embody any animal form, and ultimately save what remains of her human descendants. She is a mother, bravely guarding her own tender fruit even as another seeks to enslave and destroy them. In the work Butler imagines a nearly immortal Black woman character who uses her power not to dominate and colonize but to heal and cure her neighbors, to birth whole tribes, and to cultivate the earth to feed the bodies and the spirit of her people.
Free will and wildness are underlying themes in this highly original work that also speaks to the importance of a less predatory and more natural relationship to each other and the land on which we live. Wildseed is one of many artistic creations from Africa and the Africa Diaspora that sees Afrofuturism as a powerful tool to expand and shape the discussions around environmentalism and climate change. As shown in her Parable novels, Butler knew what many are recognizing now--that a more responsible relationship to the earth is critical in creating strong, healthy, vibrant BlackFutures.
Stars Come Down (2020) by Sheree Renee ThomasNew York Live Arts
Daughters of Gods and Shadows (2014) by S. Ross BrowneNew York Live Arts
Thousand Year Stare (2020) by Mawhyah MiltonNew York Live Arts
“We come from the home of grimy soul music
We got a heritage
We gotta learn how to use it.”
Valley of the Shadow of Death (2020) by Winifred HawkinsNew York Live Arts
“These are masters of craft, originators of new sonic (and therefore social) worlds. They all break, deform, and remake standard uses of music technology, genre and even expectations of race, gender, and sexuality.” — Alondra Nelson
Pieta (2020) by Winifred HawkinsNew York Live Arts
Like Jean Michel Basquiat, “graffiti writer,” visual/performance artist, and futurist Rammellzee is celebrated because he successfully fused the worlds of Hip Hop with the avant guarde, but he also embodied the dynamic relationship between Hip Hop and Afrofuturism. The RAMM::EL::ZEE’s transgressive spirit that captured the chaos of his era was reflected in his Transformer-like installation pieces that encased his body, signifying his own spectacular personal mythology. Rammellzee helped pave the way pioneered by The Last Poets, Missy Elliot, MF Doom, DJ Spooky aka That Subliminal Kid, SaRoc, and other musicians, poets, and visual artist who would take the two art forms and create something stunning and new. As Eryka Badu reminds us in her song, “the Healer,” that “Hip Hop is bigger than religion” and that Afrofuturism allows us to “reboot, refresh, restart.”
Jackson Avenue Culvert (2002) by Daniel Coates and Larry KuzniewskiNew York Live Arts
Natural Born Thriller (excerpt)
by Danian Darrell Jerry
Michael Irons hurried north to the neighborhood rail yard to meet O Baby. A nightmare had driven him from the home studio he shared with Uncle Zebb and Aunt Shelly. In his dream he battled his dead father, while his dead mother sang from the moon. He always lost the rap battle, and he always dies before he woke up...
READ THE FULL TEXT HERE
You Will Know Your Tribe by Their Joy (excerpt)
by Julia Mallory
Nina directed her displeasure across the street.
'That don't make no damn sense. They out here selling them fake Black Cards again.
And for what when they know they sitting on reparations.'
'If them white folks wanna convince themselves in 2120--The year of Ra, That can't nobody tell they white AND that those cards are fake, they deserve to get got,' offered Kysha. The light in the sky illuminated the highest peaks of her face, dazzling off of her gold cowrie shell hoop earrings...
READ THE FULL TEXT HERE
The Tubman Memorial (2020) by Patience LekienNew York Live Arts
The Flight of The Lady Tubman (excerpt)
by Arthur Flowers
The Twins propel themselves through the corridors of the ship, their preferred manner of locomotion. dNubia and Ardiss just transfer. Oldschool. The Captain was waiting for them. Sublimes, she say like she still don't quite believe it. Are you sure, dNubia inquire. The Captain is not sure of anything. Like most of humanity she had thought Sublimes were galactic fables, even after being briefed upon being given command of the Tubman she had barely thought it possible. Unaccountably irritated, the Captain patch them into the ship. <warning> mind:ship verbalize. <tracked> By who, dNubia inquire...
READ THE FULL TEXT HERE
Intergalactic Soul (2020) by Marcus Kiser, Jason Woodberry, Quentin Talley, and Intergalactic SoulNew York Live Arts
The Tribe of Hope (2018) by Paul Thomas the Recycle KingNew York Live Arts
Paul Thomas, “The Recycle King,” displays a bold and vibrant environmental consciousness. His work celebrates the resourcefulness and power of women to reimagine and shape their lives, often making a way out of no way. Culleg from vintage fabric and other eco-friendly materials, Thomas’ work embodies the reduce, reuse, and recycle theme of sustainable fashion today.
Ancestors Walking Into the Future (2019) by Paul Thomas the Recycle KingNew York Live Arts
His designs often explore Afrofuturist themes, from the otherworldly to the mythic ancient past, and his original work recognizes the restorative, creative spirit that resides in us all. By selecting models from the community, he remakes humble talents of all backgrounds and ages, refashioning them as recycle queens and goddesses in worlds not yet seen.
We Are the Future (2018) by Paul Thomas the Recycle KingNew York Live Arts
Awakening of Spring (2020) by Paul Thomas the Recycle KingNew York Live Arts
Deus e Mulher preta (God is a Black woman) (2020) by Nicki Monteiro, Kalebe Valadao, and Jackie BNew York Live Arts
The Inheritor (2020) by Mawhyah MiltonNew York Live Arts
First Contact Blues (excerpt)
by Sheree Renée Thomas
She whispered the first blues in a young slave’s ear back in a Tennessee cotton field, offering the blue note like a blessing. The child’s tongue had struggled for the notes, his face streaked with sweat. There, among the wild oaks and pecans, the n’goni and the kora were no longer even myth. They had to bend the flat fifth from catgut, made the body from pine. She’d shown the child where to tap the wood and how to make it whine like the great wolf’s river. A flagrant violation of her mission, the choice was the only natural one she could see...
READ THE FULL TEXT HERE
Meadow Sunlight in the Swinging Fields (2012) by Black Earth Ensemble and Nicole M. MitchellNew York Live Arts
Nicole Mitchell has been hailed for her “Afrofuturist vision” and credited as “probably the most inventive flutist in the past 30 years of jazz” by The New York Times. Her remarkable imagination, versatility, leadership, and gift for innovation and collaboration has made her a remarkable force on and off the stage. Her work inspires new generations of musicians while honoring the path-making of pioneers of our past.
Faebony (2018) by Synthia Hogan and JasteriaNew York Live Arts
Like the wind in the willows and the play of light across a deepening green of hidden woods, the realm of cosplay and Lolita wardrobe is filled with magic and a sense of wonder. The imaginative, transformative power of the Lolita community can also be found in the pageantry, puppetry, and costumes of cosplayers. And Afrofuturists are no less excited by cosplay’s creative potential than any other communities in fandom
Radiance (2020) by Eric Towles and JasteriaNew York Live Arts
From Superheroes and the Fantastic, to the Victorian elegance of Lolita and the folklore of Far, Black cosplayers craft their own costumes and create their own remarkable magic to navigate through the world today. They build community through creativity, offering each other alternate systems of seeing, being, and believing. The Afrofuturist cosplay community is ever evolving, seeking new creative challenges as they don the colors and wonders of their own choosing.
Ancestral Worthiness (2020) by Quentin VercettyNew York Live Arts
Healthy, loving BlackFutures require a real-time reexamination of our relationship to each other and to the land. By drawing on the lessons of our past, we can ensure that the beauty of our ancestral and intergenerational knowledge is valued and passed on…
Two Worlds, Or a Walk in the Park (2020) by Eric Towles and JasteriaNew York Live Arts
Quantumblu Quilt Mix 2 (2013) by Algernon MillerNew York Live Arts
Curating the End of the World - Red Spring is dedicated to living legend, Algernon Miller, a Father of Afrofuturist Art whose brilliant, wide-ranging artistic creations, gallery installations, sacred “skywords,” and public art has blazed a trail for future generations of Afrofuturist creators.
Shaped by America's cultural revolution of the 60s, Miller's work is not easily categorized, as his ever-changing interests and influences have led him to create works that dey a singular aesthetic. from the sacred geometry of his "Tree of Hope" that stands like an ancient obelisk from Africa or Stanley Kubric's "2001: A Space Odyssey," to the regal revelations revealed in the African American quilts that informed his design of the famous Frederick Douglass Circle near Central Park to his experiments with light, sound, kinetic energy, holography, and solar power, Miller fuses Afrofuturist metaphysics with Africana theoretical philosophies.
Steadfast and sure, KiopRa's prolific works were inspired by a myriad of sources over the years, from the cosmic grooves of Sun Ra during the Beat Era, to the works of Frantz Fanon and Cheikh Antra Diol, from W.E.B. DuBois to Buckminster Fuller, Amiri Baraka and Rudolph Steiner. The artist transforms these influential writings into light-box constellations, sirs that may guide the viewer to a self-determined future. Today you can see his influence on the African Burial Ground Monument in the Wall Street District of New York to the National African Museum in Washington, DC. BSAM and New York Live Arts celebrate the vision and dedication of pioneering Afrofuturist artists Algernon Miller. May his enduring spirit of inventiveness continue to guide and lift us as we boldly go forward.
Thank You to our Contributors:
Yasin Allah AKA MMilk
S. Ross Browne
Danian Darrell Jerry
Sheree Renée Thomas
View all Contributors and bios HERE
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 www.bsam-art.com and @bsamstl on Instagram.
Credits: All MediaThe 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.