A panel discussion between Alisha B. Wormsley, Jasmine Murrell, HYPHEN-LABS, and Saks Afridi led by curator Ingrid LaFleur in the Atrium (virtual + in-person options available)
What new trajectories are created when future visions from different worlds connect, converse, and influence each other?
Futurisms is a possible trajectory. It is a cross-cultural journey mapped by the desire for a future filled with love and beauty. This exhibition brings together artists Jasmine Murrell, Saba Taj, Alisha Wormsley, Saks Afridi, and the artist collective, Hyphen Labs, to initiate a conversation between Afrofuturism, Sci-fi Sufism, and Muslim Futures. Each artist reminds us that we can still find the utopia within the dystopia. Here, embodied knowledge is liberatory technology. A technology activated only through vulnerability, reverence, empathy, and excitement. Futurisms engages this technology to offer a way forward. Futurisms charts strategies for imagining a fruitful future, one that helps us to confront ourselves and recognize the magic inside.
The term Afrofuturism was coined in 1996 by cultural critic Mark Dery. Afrofuturism as a cultural movement, however, has continued to evolve into a multidisciplinary, intersectional, multi-temporal visioning practice that foregrounds the past, present, and future of Black bodies. Speculating about the future through art is a central characteristic of Afrofuturism. During its evolution, other practices have emerged, such as Arab-futurism, Gulf-futurism, Muslim-futurism, and Sci-fi Sufism. Each practice has developed and can be defined differently, and yet each, inspired by Afrofuturism, query whether possible futures are sites of concern or innovation. Futurisms further expands this inquiry by traversing radical dreaming and ancestral kinship to survey the multiple dimensions of our shared realities.
Jasmine Murrell presents abstraction as expressed through the aging Black body. The tapestries are evidence of Black life woven into our future. Each tapestry calls to attention Murrell’s process. We see the final form of materials collected over 10 years. Among them are images of a Black female body, signaling that her wisdom must be central to our future.
Saks Afridi introduces us to Sci-fi Sufism through his series Space Mosque. We are pulled into a para-fictional narrative about a phenomenon of spiritual machines appearing on Earth. The event has ended, and we learn through newspapers and artefacts that these spiritual machines revealed the best and worst of our humanity just by answering our prayers.
Alisha B. Wormsley collaborates with Li Harris to investigate ways to activate a network of portals that lead to safe pleasurable places. In D.R.E.A.M.=A Way to AFRAM, the video documents the process of opening a portal in Marfa, TX. The tension we witness between the two is the necessary energy to help transport us to utopias they’ve identified here on Earth.
Hyphen Labs’ NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism is a multi-media installation combining design, virtual reality, and neuroscience to craft a surreal world that is protecting communities by distributing communal memories to “escape cognitive tyranny.”
One of the tenets of Afrofuturism is that the Black body cannot be entirely free until all other oppressed groups are free. Our liberations are tied. They are bonded, and they seep into each other. To that end, the agenda of subjugation and extraction, be it from the land, body, or the skies, the systems that bind the Black mind, body, and soul also bind the mind, body, and soul of everyone, even if expressed differently. We train each other in the tools of emancipation.
By reminding us that there is beauty within grief, pain, confusion, and frustration, each artist of Futurisms offers a modality towards the revolutions of freedom that speak to and support all future visions of justice.
- Artists: Alisha B. Wormsley (in cooperation with Li Harris), Hyphen-Labs, Jasmine Murrell, and Saks Afridi
- Curator: Ingrid LaFleur
- Exhibition Dates: March 7 to April 9, 2022
- Opening Reception: March 7 at 7 pm at The Gallery (You must register for each event separately)
- Panel Discussion: March 8 at 5:30 pm in the Atrium (You must register for each event separately)
- Entry: Free and open to the public upon prior registration.
- Venue: The Gallery at VCUarts Qatar / Panel discussion in the Atrium (virtual + in-person options available)
Image by: Saks Afridi, Spacetime, Print on Aluminum, 2018. Courtesy of the artist.
In collaboration with Narcy (Yassin Alsalman) with Tamara Abdul Hadi, Roï Saade.
This event is an in-person event for the VCUarts Qatar community only that will be streamed live. Members of the public are welcome to ask questions in a moderated chat, at the end of each session. Please use the registration button to register and receive a link to your chosen event.
The 4 Axes
The Department of Disinformation
False Truths, Historiography & Revisionism
The Institute of Speculation
Future Fictions, Dystopian Worlds & Imagined Artifacts
The Ministry of Matters
Materiality, Processes & Environmental Resources
The State of Change
New Systems, Technologies & Perspectives