Re-Remembering The Future

Alisha B. Wormsley Brings a Mythical Perspective to the Narratives of the African Diaspora

  • photo courtesy HTMlles festival

Artist Alisha B. Wormsley challenges the future post-industrial capitalism has set up, imagining a time-transcending science-fiction fantasy.

The artist’s goal is to re-envision the history and future of African diaspora, using the medium of audiovisual installations.

Wormsley is a multidisciplinary artist who focuses her work on retelling the collective human narrative. This narrative, along with the concepts of Afrofuturism, ancient futurism and cyberfeminism were introduced to Montreal audiences from Nov. 7 to Nov. 15 as part of Studio XX’s 11th edition of the HTMlles Festival, titled ZÉR0 FUTUR{E}.

Drawing inspiration from current gender and racial relations, her passion for science-fiction and her master’s training in anthropology, Wormsley prompts her audience to consider the cultural status quo from a mythical and feminist perspective.

“We have the ability to remember the beginning,” Wormsley told The Link. “As far as showing it visually, that’s what I wanted to do.

“It’s coming from [the Atlantic slave trade] into today’s technological American capitalism, with all these people getting here in different ways,” she said of her project.

The installation and performance was personalized with a tower of old televisions arranged as part of a winged totem, playing videos of the artist’s friends and acquaintances.

By incorporating what Wormsley considers “the most ancient, most singular cultural phenomenon in history,” she hopes to represent a spiritual connection of ancient cultures, First Nations communities in Montreal and indigenous communities across continents.

Influenced by science-fiction writer Octavia Butler as well as her own literary work-in-progress titled children of NAN, the Pittsburgh artist co-created the performance PROOF with composer Lisa E.

Harris, using elements of other joint projects the artists have undertaken over the last ten years.

“Lisa disperses the sound, creating another layer of time as another dimension in these stories,” said Wormsley.

The festival also held a panel on Nov. 9 called A Conversation on Afrofuturism featuring Wormsley, Harris, author Ytasha L. Womack, along with other speakers who discussed the meaning of empowerment and the importance of role models in widespread cultural stories. The talk showed the way each speaker envisioned the future of African-American cultural movements and was followed by a free performance from musicians GAYANCE and tobias.dj.

Events throughout the week showcased a total of 40 projects from Canadian and international artists dedicated to innovative proposals about possible futures. Some of these events included a free digital performance workshop by artist and theorist micha cárdenas at Concordia’s Loyola campus, a performance by Julie Matson of Echo Beach at the Eastern Bloc, Christina Goestl’s Clitonics exhibition, and special video presentation FRAGMENT EDMEMORY by claRa apaRicio yoldi, to name just a few.

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