DanceGATHERING becomes AFROPOLIS in 2021
An announcement yesterday revealed the renaming of DanceGathering to AFROPOLIS, as issued by the festival’s curator and artistic director, Qudus Onikeku. This decision was inspired by the contributions and hybrid gathering of performing and visual artists from over 50 cities across the African continent during last year’s event.
Themed ‘Beyond Afrofuturism’ the 2021 edition will run for 4 consecutive months (July to October) and feature a series of curated hybrid manifestations that will hold virtually and in specific global cities. The physical gatherings will take place in July in Barcelona, August in Lagos, and September in Chicago. There will also be a grand virtual gathering in October that will be an upgraded version of the 2020 digital experience. “We hope to combine artistic collaboration with remote and physical interaction, seeking new processes of anti-disciplinary exchange between performance, design, community engagement, and digital technology, to generate creative synergy within a distributed network of global Africans to compose new forms and express innovative ideas.”
Many 20th century global Black or African artistes, thinkers, mystics and community organisers laid the background for what has come to be known as Afrofuturism; a critical project of reinventing a world that is not bound up with the ideals of enlightenment and White universalism, which for a vast majority of people were fundamentally experienced in forms of violence, theft and oppression, an incredibly one-sided view upon human progress. Afrofuturism is one of such attempts to displace the premise upon which African impulses are centred. 20 years into the 21st century, the world as we knew it ended, so many among us mourn losses from a virus that took hold of the planet and other circumstances, yet a year of so much loss will remain in history, as the year that gave humanity new insights into the actual value of the African time.
The George Floyd phenomenon that took the world by surprise, was not the first evidence of our current apocalypse of human values, it was the global lockdown that opened us all for the monumental turn that the Black Lives Matter movement took. The pains of the lockdown, mixed with the sounds and images of Black bodies in pain, which flooded our screens suddenly solved the equation. “I Can’t Breathe”, these three beseeching words whispered in extreme agony, has been the final words with which young Black men have left this world. This time, it managed to confront and fumigate our incapacity for genuine empathy across borderlines. These images and sounds multiplied by the images and sounds of millions of our kind on their respirators, lingering for days between life and death, made it simpler to equate racism with breathlessness; the deprivation of air, of the human right to air itself. “I Can’t Breathe”, in the genius of its truth, managed to present us the codeword to express the fundamental clarity of what happens when people are demonised, excluded, deprived, oppressed, and murdered simply because of the colour of their skin. It is also this that we speak of when we mention Afrofuturism, the task ahead is about understanding the universality of our powers and our collective destiny, from wherever we are in the world. It is beyond spectacle.
For more information on the event, visit afropolis.org.
April 16, 2021
April 15, 2021