INTERVIEW: THE STUDIO MUSEUM HARLEM
The artistic cultural production and cultural theory that is Afrofuturism has long used the fantastical and Science Fiction elements of robotics and aliens, to solve the inequality of colonialism by transcending the social limitations of Black Diasporic life in Western society. Although appearing cosmically perfect, it cannot be denied that Afrofuturism’s history is far from utopic: the trauma of the African transatlantic slave trade, W.E.B Du Bois’ emphatic theory of double-consciousness, Zora Neale Hurston’s iconic folklore depicting humor amidst trauma, Sun Ra’s militant blaxploitation music and imagery, Octavia Butler’s equivocal writings on outsider aesthetics, and lets not forget thesouthernplayalisticcadillacfunkymusic of OutKast. Resilient, AfroFuturists have owned, analyzed, deconstructed, and re-coded their joy and pain, and those of their ancestors, to re-imagine the African Diasporian future—free from Western social stigmas.
For decades, Afrofuturism was publicly linked to literature and music; and yet recently, a courtship has begun with fine art. On November 14th The Studio Museum in Harlem took the helm and debuted its Afrofuturist exhibition, “The Shadows Took Shape.” We at Saint Heron are no strangers to Afrofuturism as emerging and Saint Heron featured artists, Kelela, BCKingdom, Sampha, have strains of Afrofuturist aesthetics coded within their work, so it was a pleasure to speak with the curators, Naima J. Smith and Zoe Whitley, on Afrofuturist activism, the theme of flight throughout African American history, and accidental Afrofuturists. Set amidst the backdrop of a sensitive and rich history, like a griot “The Shadows Took Shape“ exhibition and the Saint Heron interview navigates through rough terrain to tell an ever-evolving story of a new Black frontier.
READ THE FULL INTERVIEW AT SAINTHERON.COM
Photo: Robert Pruitt, “Untitled 3″