Posts by Anaïs Duplan

The Afrofuture for the Time/Being: Traveling Black to the Future

"Of course, Black(s) to the Future isn’t about achieving Black supremacy—but every bit about counteracting the pigeonholing of Black art."

In 1941, Moïse Yehouessi was called to war. A young man from Benin, he’d studied at William Ponty, a military school housed in a old fortress about twenty miles east of Dakar, in Senegal. Yehouessi fought on France’s side against the Axis powers in World War II. After the war, he immigrated to France, swayed by the propaganda promise of affirmative reception within France.

Three decades later, in December 2015, I sat talking to his granddaughter over Skype. “He was treated like shit,” said Mawena suddenly, from her Paris apartment. France did indeed see a rise in immigration after WWII, from all over Africa. Take, for instance, the thousands of Algerian pieds noirs who fled to France at the end of the Algerian War. It didn’t take long for internal tensions to emerge in France between the nation’s French-Algerians and the larger French populace. In James Markham’s 1988 New York Times article, “For Pieds-Noirs, the Anger Ensues,” former French prime minister Jacques Chirac is reported as saying, “To reconcile France with its colonial past is to reconcile France with itself. […] As a lieutenant in Algeria, I did my duty. I shared your hopes and your agonies, and understood your élan.” The last word, élan, struck me as glib. READ MORE…

The Afrofuture for the Time/Being: In Orbit with niv Acosta

"The collective dance, then, becomes a kind of superhuman entity, not hindered by any one body’s limitations."

We have created constructs that subliminally or consciously reflect the fallacy of race and drive our actions and reactions along racialized pathways. Black dance is one of these constructs. Taking this line of thinking a step further, the black dancing body exists as a social construct, not a scientific fact. However, this phantom body, just like the phantom concept of a black or white race, has been effective in shaking and moving, shaping and reshaping, American (and now global) cultural production for centuries. It has been courted and scorned—an object of criticism and ridicule as well as a subject of praise and envy.

Brenda Dixon Gottschild, The Black Dancing Body: A Geography from Coon to Cool

DISCOTROPIC is the name of an ongoing project by New York-based dancer, niv Acosta. Proceeding in a series of ‘episodes’–each occurring at a different place and time— DISCOTROPIC deals simultaneously with astrophysics, the history of disco, and a Black sense of danger. With his group of performers, niv has performed various iterations of DISCOTROPIC at the New Museum, MoCADA, Cooper Union, Lehmann Maupin, amongst other notable New York arts venues.


The Afrofuture, for the Time/Being: In Conversation with E. Jane

"...the Internet was always the space where I could mostly engage all of my selves."

Much of my fascination with contemporary Afrofuturism revolves around studying the ways in which Black artists in the field are utilizing the Internet to complicate the idea of ‘alien space.’ Afrofuturism necessarily points to an-other space—traditionally, outer space—as the destination point for the Black human-being, who, being so totally extradited from Earthly society, requires a more total severance in form of a physical migration. The cosmos has, for decades prior, served as the primary landing space for the Black alien migrant, but in recent years, the Internet has made its way to the forefront of the Afrofuture. Relative to cosmic space, the Internet has served as a perhaps closer and seemingly just-as-expansive alternate realm to which to escape. And in fact, the ‘proximity’ of the Internet calls into question whether ‘escape’ is really the dominant motion; rather than, for example, the motion of transformation. (I don’t think that anyone doubts anymore that the relationship between meatspace and cyberspace is mutually mutative.) The contemporary fugitive as shapeshifter and space-shifter.

E. Jane is one such artist who has made the Internet a primary medium. Creating cyber-installations across multiple social media platforms, as well as video, and sound-based works, E. Jane’s work is a seminal voice in the growing field of Internet-based Afrofuturism. Not to mention, E. is also one half of the Philadelphia-based sound-duo named SCRAAATCH—the other half being their partner, chukwumaa. Notably, the duo recently appeared The Fader in a feature titled, “The Voices Disrupting White Supremacy Through Sound.”

E. and I met in cyberspace to chat about their most recent work. We began with a quote from Toni Morrison, whom E. had spent the day reading.


The Afrofuture, for the Time/Being: Mat Randol

"The afronaut tells the disjunctive story of the history of the world, and says it with his own words (read: establishes the new lingual order)."

Mat Randol has a stylist. Her name is Miá—she’s nice, and so is Mat’s agent, Mulu. Mat Randol has an entire crew. I stress this point if only to try to convey my extreme surprise at finding out that I had unwittingly commissioned Mat’s first-ever live performance.

I met Mat on the Internet. He was part of a future-soul scene in Portland, along with formidable rappers like Grape God and Ripley Snell. In fact, these three musicians (Mat, Grape, and Rip) went on to become the Portland faction of a collective I started called The Spacesuits, an international network of musicians putting on otherworldly performances. READ MORE…