AFRONAUTS: File this under: “a future that never was”. Photographer Cristina De Middel uses the fact of a failed 1960’s Zambian proposal for a space program as a starting point for a photo series called “Afronauts”. Lovely concept. Beautiful tones in the images.
Video feature: “Delphine Diallo: Creative Control”
MIXED MEDIA: I discovered Delphine Diallo’s work a few years ago with Magic Photo Studio a series of painted on/around photos created after a trip to Senegal. She has a current project, an art book titled “The Gift” being funded via Kickstarter. Go there and support the work of this artist-to-watch.
FELA’S QUEENS: Kalakuta Queens, circa 2011. Photographer James Petrozello’s portraits of the dancers of “Fela!”, the Broadway show currently touring the US. WARNING: some images NSFW.
African Underground: Democracy in Dakar is a groundbreaking documentary film about hip-hop youth and politics in Dakar Senegal. The film follows rappers, DJs, journalists, professors and people on the street at the time before during and after the controversial 2007 presidential election in Senegal and examines hip-hop’s role on the political process. Originally shot as a seven part documentary mini-series released via the internet – the documentary bridges the gap between hip-hop activism, video journalism and documentary film and explores the role of youth and musical activism on the political process
WE OF THE SAYA (pronounced “sigh-yah”) is a feature-length cultural and social documentary about the marginalized Afro-Bolivian community, and their struggle to achieve recognition as a legitimate ethnic group in the new Bolivian constitution. In addition to enriching culture and music, this film will present the rise of an Afro-Bolivian civil rights movement. “We of the Saya” is an inspirational story about the Afro-Bolivian movement (and all Afro-Descendant movements in a broader sense), and their resistance to suffer more years of continuous marginalization.This is an inspirational story about self-determination and seizing the moment in order to improve a community’s way of life.
(In Spanish with subtitles)
Trailer for the film “Thomas Sankara, Upright Man”, now publicly available at California Newsreel
California Newsreel is making this collection of feature films available directly to consumers — for the first time in its history, the Library of African cinema will be widely available on DVD for $24.95 each.
The collection includes widely celebrated feature films such as Ousmane Sembene’s “Faat Kine” (2001), Djibril Diop Mambety’s “La Petite Vendeuse de Soleil”, also known as “the Little Girl Who Sold the Sun” (1999), Zézé Gamboa’s “The Hero” (2004), Newton Aduaka’s “Ezra” (2007), Moussa Sene Absa’s “Ça Twiste à Poponguine” (1993), Joseph Gai Ramaka’s “Karmen Gei” (2001) and Mohamed Camara’s “Dakan” (1997).
In February of 2006, Torgovnik traveled to East Africa to report on a story for Newsweek, coinciding with the twenty-fifth anniversary of the outbreak of HIV/AIDS. While in Rwanda, he heard an interview with Odette, a survivor who was raped during the Rwandan genocide and as a result of that rape, had a child and contracted HIV/AIDS. She described how her entire family had been killed and recounted the terrible abuse she experienced. Odette’s horrific story led Torgovnik to return to Rwanda to work on a personal project about women who, like her, were left pregnant as a result the militia’s heinous crimes. Over the next three years, he made repeated visits to photograph these women and their children, and record their heart-wrenching stories.
A pan African vision of remembering your origins and imagining a future that honors those but moves forward.
Tricia Rose on the definition of Afrofuturism.
Tricia Rose is a professor of Africana (???) Studies at Brown University. In the audio clip above from the NPR show “Studio 360” she weaves a thread of futurism through black american music linking Sun Ra’s space jazz (“Space is the Place”) with Parliament/Funkadelic’s ghetto sci-fi funk of “Mothership Connection” and Afrika Bambaata’s epic electrofunk in “Planet Rock“. In the present, Lupe Fiasco becomes a robot in “Daydreamin'”. The impetus behind futuristic music in black American pop culture comes from a desire to escape the f**keupness of the current situation (slavery, inner city violence/poverty) and to imagine a better self using the vehicle of science fiction.
MUSIC: “I’m Not a Robot” by Newcleus. Although immortalized for the frivolity that is “Jam On It”, Brooklynites Newcleus explored sci-fi and spirituality in most of their work.
FILM:Brother from Another Planet. Black space alien crash lands in New York City and ends up in Harlem where the residents, sympathetic to his alien status, accept him and protect him from galactic bounty hunters seeking to return him to the slavery of his home planet.
Kwaito: (noun): “A music genre that emerged in Johannesburg, South Africa in the early 1990s. It is based on house music beats, but typically at a slower tempo and containing melodic and percussive African samples which are looped, deep basslines and often vocals, generally male, shouted or chanted rather than sung or rapped.”
Love this song. In sound it is a tribute to the original mid-80’s Chicago house that was just stripped down drum and bass beats with vocal samples (check out breaks in the last 30 seconds). Where, where, where can I find more of this?
SEE ALSO: Adonis: No Way Back[YouTube, audio only] Speaking of, here is some OG Chicago house from the pioneer house label Trax Records.
UPDATE: Wait! There’s more. As usual it seems like I was the last one to hear about DJ Mujava; this song blew up in the last couple of months, but has been bubbling under for about a year. However in its wake there has been a lot of interest in the kwaito scene, especially because of its similarities with the European electronica/dance scene. Fact Magazine has done a small survey of the kwaito scene from the more edgy, stripped down Chicago house to the more “friendly” garage, grime related sounds. Here are some YouTube links to the songs featured in the article:
Curated by the editors and contributors of Chimurenga Magazine, the Chimurenga Library is an online archiving project that profiles independent pan African paper periodicals from around the world. It focuses on cultural and literary magazines, both living and extinct, which have been influential platforms for dissent and which have broadened the scope for print publishing on art, new writing and ideas in and about Africa.
“Is Anyone Reading in Kenya?”: Africa Journal report on the culture of reading in Kenya in the context of the recent Kwani? Litfest.
The Talking Heads added a healthy dose of West African juju rhythms and American funk to the post-punk quirk of their landmark album “Remain in Light”. I’ve grown to have a deep respect for David Bryne who has continued to bring what I call “bastard music” from all over the world to western ears (via his label Luaka Bop), bridging the racial and cultural gaps created by the obsession with musical purity.
“Double Dutch”: Malcolm McLaren
…. This song though, adopts and African tune, and was recorded and sung by Zulus in Kwazululand, echoing names of famous New York High school teams like the ‘Ebonettes’, ‘Ford Green Angels’ and the ‘Five Town Diamond Skippers’.
Source: Album Notes from “Duck Rock“, Malcolm McLaren
Afropolitanism is the modish tag for new work made by young African artists both in and outside Africa. What unites the artists is a shared view of Africa, less as a place than as a concept; a cultural force. This idea, or something like it, lies behind “Flow” at the Studio Museum in Harlem, a fine-textured survey of 20 artists who, with a few exceptions, were born in Africa after 1970 but who now live in Europe or the United States.
i checked out the exhibition last weekend. the works stand on their own as contemporary art that happens to address african themes and subject matter, which frees the work from the “ethnic” connotation that would otherwise diminish its relevance beyond africa. highlights include mustafa maluka‘s post-modern, urban/pop culture inspired paintings, as well “lolo” veleko’s landmark street portraits of jo’burg fashionistas”beauty is in the eye of the beholder“.
if you are in the NYC area or plan to be, take that trip uptown. this is a must-see art show.
Posted: November 15th, 2007 | Author:kamau | Filed under:music, video | Comments Off
I felt like black culture was representing itself in a really narrow way. It’s ridiculous for a white boy to look at that and say ‘well maybe I can do something about it’. But that is what happened and I said, you know I would like to make a video that depicted black culture that wasn’t African-American culture but was African culture that wasn’t obsessed as a lot of the hip hop videos were in that period, and still are, with materialism and sexism. I just felt there’s got to be other aspects of black culture to depict and that was the manifesto I made for myself.