Blueprints for the AfrofutureCurated by Kemi Craig
Blueprints for the Afrofuture is a programming series that builds on the work of artist Denyse Thomasos, whose paintings speak to the experience of the African diaspora (previously on view at the AGGV from Dec 11, 2021 – Mar 13, 2022). Kemi will be collaborating with interdisciplinary Black artists and collectives from across BC to create art/offerings which will be shared with the public over the next year. As Kemi states, “The process acts as an embodied practice of what it looks like when our various Black communities, organizations, and individuals have the opportunity to gather and support each other through collective imagining, shared labor and resources.”
The importance of recognizing Blackness in BC creates more fulsome perspectives and knowledge benefitting all people across these territories. So some of the questions Kemi hopes to answer alongside the community, and artists such as Charles Campbell, Justine Chambers, Joshua Ngenda and writer Angie Riley, to name a few, are:
Why is the act of gathering so important?
Where are the places where we can connect?
How do we connect our various communities?
What kinds of spaces do we need?
How do we learn about and support local Black presence and experiences?
See program line-up below and watch this video for more insight into the project!
We were thrilled to have Kemi Craig join us on an episode of the AGGV’s #WIP Podcast to reflect on her collaborations with interdisciplinary Black artists and collectives from across BC. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts, and learn more about Kemi Craig’s programming series with Charles Campbell, Justine A. Chambers, Joshua Ngenda, Angie Riley, Ruby Smith Díaz, DJ Nova Jade, DJ Ayaverse, DJ Njoki Njoki, and the Hidden Variable Sound Collective:
In this iteration of Blueprints for the Afrofuture, Ruby Smith Díaz joins Kemi Craig via Zoom to share more about her soundscape, titled Living Freedom, that was recently shared with visitors during Portal to the Afrofuture!
Head over to our YouTube channel to listen to an excerpt from Ruby’s soundscape, and learn more about this immersive piece blending the past, present and future of African diaspora peoples. In the recording the artist layers melodies from a kalimba, an instrument Indigenous to the African continent, with words from award-winning author Robyn Maynard, and children of African descent from ARC Community School. The soundscape speaks of the disproportionate impacts of the ‘justice’ system, to the realities facing Black children today, and the everlasting legacy of love and protection from our ancestors to help us live freedom.
Ruby Smith Díaz would like to extend a special thanks to:
-The children, parents, and caregivers at ARC Community School on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, and səlilwətaɬ people, for allowing her to spend the afternoon reading Mariame Kaba’s book Missing Daddy, and discussing the impacts of prisons on our communities. Their voices and their affirmations are the future.
-Robyn Maynard for lending her voice to this piece, and for her ongoing contributions towards documenting Black histories in so-called Canada, and the disproportionate impacts of the ‘justice’ system on our communities.
In this iteration of Blueprints for the Afrofuture, Angie Riley welcomes aspiring writers into her home studio for a virtual writing workshop. Join Angie as she chats with Kemi Craig about her process of developing Clown Fish – the story of a young person learning to use their invisibility as a superpower and adapting to the environment around them – and dive into the detailed process of finding a protagonist and writing a story through a variety of fun, interactive writing exercises!
In this iteration of Blueprints for the Afrofuture, Charles Campbell and Justine Chambers, both total powerhouses in BC, sat down at the Gallery to share an artist-to-artist talk and learn more about each other’s work.
In conjunction with the Blueprints for the Afrofuture series, Blackspace Sci-Fi Club is a space to gather and explore fantasy, speculative narratives, and science fiction by and for people of the African diaspora. Over three sessions, a lounge space will be offered at the Gallery, for participants to imagine, dream, be empowered, and be inspired by stories that conceptualize Blackness at the merging of past, present, and future.
On July 30, 2022, Joshua Ngenda took over our Instagram account for the morning and invited the community into his studio to watch a durational performance and experience an artist’s view of the collage making process. Folks were encouraged to tune in with their favourite Saturday morning beverage and invited to pop in and out of the live session at any time. Watch a brief recap from Joshua Ngenda’s iteration of Blueprints for the Afrofuture – an AGGV program curated by local film and dance artist Kemi Craig.
Hidden Variable is a music focused collective, loosely centered around a group of friends living in Victoria, BC. They record music together in each other’s homes and anywhere else they find themselves. Most of the collective’s recorded music can be found at hiddenvariable.bandcamp.com.
The collective’s contribution to the Blueprints for the Afrofuture series included an evening of sound and music, with live, improvisational, and interactive elements. The music presented drew influence from dub, west & central African folk music, Afrobeat and hip hop.
Dance, reflect, envision the future in your living room and celebrate diasporic experiences by listening back to the recording at:
DJ Nova Jade’s playlist includes three hours of themed musical activity (starting with a reflection hour, moving into a joyful hour and finally, into an envisioning hour), as well as song titles, found sounds, original tracks, demos, pre-recorded stories, and other random soundbites from the community. This found-sound treasure-hunt was an opportunity for us to collectively capture feelings and vibes in musical Blueprints for the Afrofuture!
Inspired by the Zimbabwean proverb that says, If you can walk you can dance, if you can talk you can sing, DJ Nova Jade would like to add, If you’re not able to walk, you can feel, and if you can’t sing, hum.
DJ Nova Jade, or Tera Greene (she/they), has been DJing since 2003. Originally from Los Angeles, she received the Pat Parker’s Artist Award for being the sole DJ with the pivotal 4-year Serafemme Women’s Music Festival. Now a resident of Victoria, Nova* is the host of Bad Rabbit Radio on SUB.FM, broadcasting worldwide bi-weekly since 2018. She has lent her eclectic musical range as a DJ/Singer-Songwriter to a vast array of landscapes and settings, and she has even mentored youth and beginner DJs along the way. She is also an intuitive Integrative Nutrition health coach, vegan-ish, and an artivist (artist/activist).
A queer DJ, Nova* has opened for Grammy-nominated artists Kelis at Los Angeles (CSW) Pride, as well as DJ’d multiple pride festivals from Long Beach to Vancouver (pride parade). Her technical skills & creativity have also placed her on lineups where she has opened for top EDM artists, including DJ NDN of Juno award-winning, A Tribe Called Red.
At her core, Nova Jade* is a true audiophile, a “DJ’s DJ”, and one of her passions is dance. She says, “Every set I play, I set an intention to become in tune with the heartbeat of the crowd I’m playing for.” Find, follow and listen to DJ Nova Jade* at soundcloud.com/djnovajade and badrabbitradio.com
On Friday, February 3, 2023, from 6-10 PM, artists and communities who laid the Blueprint for the Afrofuture through Kemi Craig’s year-long program, came together for Portal to the Afrofuture – an evening of music and dance in celebration of the series! Visitors experienced; a haunting immersive soundscape by Ruby Smith Díaz, a piece titled Living Freedom, blending past present and future of African diaspora peoples; interacted with live sounds of ‘Liberations’ by DJ Nova Jade; danced with DJ Ayaverse and DJ Njoki Njoki; and participated in a variety of hands on activities!