Pan African Space Station

Radio Pop-Up Wed 23 Oct 2019 - Sat 9 Nov 2019 The New School
Arnold and Sheila Aronson Galleries, Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, Parsons School of Design
66 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10011
Public Reception
Friday, October 25, 5:30-6:30pm
Gallery Hours: Open daily 12-6pm and Thursdays 12-8pm

Admission is free to all events.
From 23 - 25 October 2019, Chimurenga will install its Pan African Space Station (PASS) at Arnold and Sheila Aronson Galleries, New York City.

The three-day broadcast will explore the participation of African American artists, activists, and intellectuals in the 2nd World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture, FESTAC '77, held in Lagos, Nigeria, in January-February 1977. The nearly 700-strong US delegation at FESTAC '77 was "the largest single group of African Americans ever to return to Africa in one body" (Ebony Magazine), and featured luminaries such Sun Ra, Stevie Wonder, Audre Lorde, Alice Walker, Jayne Cortez, Barkley Hendricks, Betye Saar, Louis Farrakhan, Faith Ringgold and many, many more. The poet Kalamu ya Salaam described the event as "the culmination of the Black Art Movement oriented artistic conferences, festivals, and gatherings".

The Pan African Space Station in NYC will feature many of the participants in the 1977 event [names to come] and will close on October 25th with a rare performance of composer and trombonist Craig Harris' suite titled FESTAC '77 at the John L. Tishman Auditorium – Harris traveled to Lagos as a member of Sun Ra's Arkestra.

This PASS landing will also serve as a presentation of Chimurenga's new book on FESTAC '77, the first publication to consider FESTAC in all its cultural-historic complexity, addressing the planetary scale of the event alongside the personal and artistic encounters it made possible.

Sun Ra Arkestra and the jazz avant-garde at FESTAC
Wednesday, October 23, 2019

As revealed in Chimurenga's recent publication, which compiles stories from/about FESTAC, Sun Ra's Astro/Afro-mysticism was initially rejected by an important section among FESTAC participants – including some members of the US contingent. In conversation with trumpet and composer Ahmed Abdullah, and trombonist and composer Craig Harris, both Arkestra members who formed part of Sun Ra's group at FESTAC, we will listen to the Sun Ra Arkestra performances (and other free jazz musicians such as Milford Graves) in Lagos. The musicians are joined by photographer Calvin Reid (who documented the Sun Ra Lagos sessions), and jazz educator Richard Harper.

Black Women Collectives at FESTAC
Thursday, October 24, 2019

Iconic black male poets often dominate stories of the Black Arts Movement. However, Black Women Collectives were represented at FESTAC via their members: Alice Walker, Audre Lorde, Louise Meriwether, from the writers' group The Sisterhood; and Charlotte Ka Richardson, Faith Ringgold, Valerie Maynard and many more from the visual arts group Where We At.

In her reflection on black women's collectives and FESTAC, poet, choreographer and myth-scientist Harmony Holiday asks: "Can we override those epigenetic tendencies rooted in generational trauma, by simply gathering and sharing ideas on our own terms, or is it too late for that pure and reckless kind of love, that troubled and troubadour Black love?... Can a festival turn into eternal solidarity?"

Harmony will read her text in the PASS studio in the company of some of the artists listed above.

Black photography and the visual memory of FESTAC
Friday, October 25, 2019

The US mainstream media mainly ignored FESTAC–reporting and analysis from media outlets such as New York Times and Washington Post, among others, focused more on lamenting the absence of whites and poor organization of the event than covering the month-long programme featuring original productions by some 30,000 artists from all over the Black world. A visual memory of FESTAC exists primarily through the perseverance of independent photographers such as Marilyn Nance, Calvin Reid, Kofi Moyo, Bob Crawford, among others, as well as the coverage produced by black media outlets such as Ebony.

Nance, Reid, and other black photographers who documented FESTAC will join us in the PASS studio.

Chimurenga: Pan AfricanSpace Station (PASS) at The New School is presented as part of the 2019 VeraList Center Forum: If Art Is Politics. It celebrates Chimurenga, recipients of the Vera List Center's 2018-2020 Jane Lombard Prize for Art and Social Justice, and the Jane Lombard Fellows and includes Chimurenga's presentation of FESTAC '77 by Craig Harris. Craig Harris is the David Randolph Distinguished Artist in Residence. The presentation of FESTAC '77 is co-produced by Arts & Education Continuumwith the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School. The 2018-2020 Jane Lombard Fellows are Liz Johnson Artur (London), Tiffany Chung (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam), Dar Yusuf Nasri Jacir for Art and Research (Bethlehem, Palestine), Jasmeen Patheja (Bangalore, India), and Naine Terena de Jesus (Mato Grosso, Brazil). The 2019 Vera List Center Forum is curated by Carin Kuoni and Eriola Pira.