"We Hold This Myth To Be Potential": Investigations into Afrofuturism

11.03.2016 - 19:00 to 19.03.2016 - 18:00
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"We Hold This Myth To Be Potential"
Investigations into Afrofuturism
March 11-19, 2016

The term Afrofuturism was coined in the year 1993 when the legendary musician and intergalactic traveller Sun Ra passed away. The term in the meantime has gathered its own history - it is as amorphous and diverse as there are of the plethora of attempts of inventing, defining, projecting a future. Afrofuturism is a speculative fiction, a future which is informed by the past, by memories which need to be rewritten - as only then they can be shared.The event "We Hold This Myth To Be Potential" deals with a history which informs the future, but a future which reflects the past - an untimely future. But who owns the future and who is entitled to speculate about it?

The "The Race for Space" was an essay by Duke Ellington refering to the the cold war competition over supremacy in outer space that loomed large in the cultural imagination of the time, which not only mirrored the techno-utopian ideology but also put into question the concept of race, as much as the ongoing colonial battles of distribution, ownership and access. For Sun Ra, “space was both a metaphor of exclusion and of reterritorialization, of claiming the ’outside’ as ones own, of tying together a revised and corrected past to a claimed future. Space was also a metaphor which transvalues the dominant terms so that they become aberrant, a minority position, while the terms of the outside, the beyond, the margins, become the standard.“ Space can become a place.

While in at the point of conception Afrofuturism was primarily a phenomenon of the African diaspora, in the last ten years particularly artists, writers, designers and musicians from the African continent were using Afrofuturism as both, a keyword and frame to reinvent the persistent cliche image of a continent of misery and replace it with self-defined, futuristic image production that does not cast its inhabitants only as victims.

What is the use of the concept of Afrofuturism in a wider context of contemporary art, culture and society, today? Obviously, it still challenges predominant conceptions such as: Who has the power to define technological progress, who owns the means of imagination? To pose these questions today, reconnects a possible future with a present that is characterised by a permanent crisis seems increasingly urgent in many different respects. It not only calls for a critical investigation of the actual colonisation of outer space by revisiting anti- and post-colonial theory, but at the same time it intervenes directly into the current debates about recent migration movements and has the posiblity to open up new perspectives of what is at stake. It unlinks the either charity or resentment driven liberal discourse of 'poor refugees' or 'illegal aliens' from the visionary, yet not fully graspable potential of a mass exodus.

During the past months the Trondheim Academy of Fine Art (KIT) has worked on the history and impact of Afrofuturism from different angles and perspectives: exploring artificial strategies for fictional narratives, terrestrial and extra-terrestrian sounds and their non-representative potential, but also the distribution of resources from the past and the future as well as the appropriation and re-appropriation of technologies of the everyday.

As a satellite program of Meta.Morf 2016, a group of graduate students and researchers at KIT will present the results of their artistic research on Afrofuturism from March 11 to 18. The exhibition spaces of Galleri KIT will be turned into an outer space research lounge of another kind: Hosting lectures, presentations, conversations, film screenings, DJ sets, performances, live-streams. It will be remotely connected to the ‘Pan African Space Station’ -- 'a machine for travelling at the speed of thought, a probe for drilling into new levels of possibility space', founded 2008 in Cape Town and curated by Ntone Edjabe.

The program features the work of the London based artists John Akomfrah and Kodwo Eshun who will install a selection of film and video pieces from the past 25 years based on two major works:

"The Last Angel of History"(1996) by John Akomfrah is 'a 45-minute meditation on black consciousness whose dense, almost chaotic weave of images and ideas offers space travel and science fiction as metaphors for the experience of the African diaspora'.

"Hydra Decapita" (2010) by The Otolith Group is a filmic essay on the Detroit based electronic music duo Drexciya, who 'released an influential series of recordings that imagined a fictional world system entitled Drexciya, populated by the subaquatic descendants of Africans drowned by slavers during the Middle Passage'.

Both, John Akomfrah and Kodwo Eshun will be present in Trondheim between March 11 and 18. The program of artist talks, lectures and presentations will take place from March 16 to 18.

Friday, March 11:
Galleri KIT, Inherredsveien 7
"We Hold This Myth To Be Potential" Opening of the Outer space research lounge at Galleri KIT
Installations by: John Akomfrah, Kodwo Eshun, KIT students and other guests

Tuesday, March 15:
Galleri KIT, Inherredsveien 7
"Of another kind of Living Life"
Party in collaboration with Futurescapes

Wednesday, March, 16:
Galleri KIT, Inherredsveien 7
John Akomfrah: The Utopian Image

Thursday, March, 17
Galleri KIT, Inherredsveien 7
Kodwo Eshun: Methods of Animating the 2nd Wars of Existence in Kojo Laing's Achimota City

Friday, March, 18
Galleri KIT, Inherredsveien 7
On Air: Panafrican Space Station (PASS, Online Radio Station and Pop up Studio

John Akomfrah is an artist and filmmaker, whose works are characterised by their investigations into memory, post-colonialism, temporality and aesthetics and often explore the experience of the African diaspora in Europe and the USA. Akomfrah was a founding member of the influential Black Audio Film Collective, which started in London in 1982 alongside the artists David Lawson and Lina Gopaul, who he still collaborates with today. Recent works include the three-screen installation "The Unfinished Conversation" (2012), a moving portrait of the cultural theorist Stuart Hall’s life and work; Peripeteia (2012), an imagined drama visualising the lives of individuals included in two 16th century portraits by Albrecht Dürer and Mnemosyne (2010) which exposes the experience of migrants in the UK, questioning the notion of Britain as a promised land by revealing the realities of economic hardship and casual racism. Akomfrah’s latest work "Vertigo Sea" (2015), a three-screen film installation that explores what Ralph Waldo Emerson calls ‘the sublime seas’, has been on display as part of Okwui Enwezor’s exhibition ‘All the World’s Futures’ (2015) at the Venice Biennale, Italy.

Kodwo Eshun is an artist and theorist. As co-founder of The Otolith Group, his work has been presented in solo exhibitions at Casco, Office for Art, Design and Theory, Utrecht, Museu Serralves, Porto, and Bergen Kunsthall, Bergen, and group exhibitions at Museum of Modern Art, New York, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, and dOCUMENTA (13).
The Otolith Group have been nominated for Turner Prize in 2010 for their project "A Long Time Between Suns", in which they presented different aspects of their practice which comprises films, photoworks, curatorial projects, writings and discussions. Eshun is the author of Dan Graham: Rock My Religion (2012) and More Brilliant than the Sun: Adventures in Sonic Fiction (1998) and co-editor of WORLD 3 (2014), The Militant Image: A Cine Geography: Third Text 108: (2011), Harun Farocki: Against What? Against Whom? (2009), A Long Time Between Suns (2009) and The Ghosts of Songs:The Film Art of the Black Audio Film Collective (2007). Eshun is Lecturer in Aural and Visual Cultures at the Department of Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths, University of London.

The Trondheim Academy of Fine Art is a Department of the Faculty of Architecture and Fine Art at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). It is organized as a flexible and experimental educational and research institution and is well known as the first art academy in the Nordic countries to offer education in media art. Today, the unique environment for art and technology in NTNU allows students on Master and Bachelor level to expand the depth and complexity of their studio practice and to experiment with new approaches across different disciplines and technologies. Currently, the Academy is hosting two artistic research projects as well as three research fellows within the Norwegian Artistic Research Programme.

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Kunstakademiet i Trondheim
Norwegian University of Technology and Science (NTNU)
N-7491 Trondheim

Visiting address:
Innherredsveien 7 (Industribygget)

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Tel. +47 73 59 79 00
Fax. +47 73 59 79 20