31 December 2016

Cosmic Evolution - What is your Earthseed Vision of the Future?

This year has been ridiculously intense, hard, and frustrating... but I've managed to do some things -- channeling my rage into creation. I've pushed myself as a writer, poet, and artist -- and this project was visioned, created, and produced all in this year since the summer. In July, I had an amazing week at the VONA/VOICES Writers of Color Workshop - Residency with David Mura. This was life changing for me a writer and it gave me the tools I need to push myself, my craft, my artistic writing self. I am grateful. Out of that powerful experience, I went into another writing retreat with my SPACE crew in Tobago - and Cosmic Evolution was born. I wrote a short story that I then began to vision as a mixed media installation -- and I submitted a proposal to the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas call for their 8th NationalExhibition. I was accepted :) and the piece grew and transformed into what you will see below. 

Close Up of Sculpture - representing Cosmic Evolution

"Cosmic Evolution" is a speculative fiction experience and multimedia installation about how we vision futures for Caribbean and African Diaspora peoples. Inspired by Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower and Caribbean mangroves and sea, I ask what is our Earthseed vision of the future? This artwork is my response and provocation for us to create wildly and boldly. To seriously think about our survival and possible futures given the continued assault on on Black, Brown, Migrant, Same-Sex loving, Queer, and Women's Lives and the earth. The sculpture is a small-scale model of the evolution of our beings and escape to the stars. (I must give a shout out and sincere gratitude to my dearest friend Shalini Seereeram for her help with design and materials for the sculpture. She is boss artist and has design magic!) The rest of installation includes 18 photographs, 11min 11sec video with mangroves and storytelling. My work is inspired by the Mangrove forests of Trinidad and Tobago and created through deep reflection of how we vision our Caribbean futures. I am thrilled to be featured in the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas 8th National Exhibition - OFFSITE at Hillside House. I went home on 16th December to Install the piece and also had the fabulous opportunity to share the work at the opening reception on the 17th and offer a reading/performance. Here are photos and some reflections of the opening and this experience of creating Cosmic Evolution.

PromoBillboard for NE8 featuring one of my photographs (of Tobago Mangrove) from Cosmic Evolution

Angelique V. Nixon | Cosmic Evolution | Artist Statement

“The Destiny of Earthseed is to take Root among the Stars.”
–Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower

Cosmic Evolution is a provocation and speculative fiction experience about how we vision our futures for Caribbean and African diaspora people – Black, Brown, Migrant, Same-Sex Loving, Queer, and Women especially. This vision began with a journey through the Mangrove forests in Tobago and deep reflection on Octavia Butler’s dystopia novel Parable of the Sower (imagining her creation of community survival through Earthseed). It also emerges through the painful social and racial climate we are surviving in the past few years of a so-called post-racial world (and the rise of Black Lives Matter and Migrant Rights movements globally in response to overwhelming violence, fear, and hate). And it comes to life thinking through the backlash against Caribbean feminist and women’s movements for gender and sexual justice and the continued struggles for gender and sexual rights and freedom for Caribbean sexual minorities (LGBTQI) and gender non-conforming people. Cosmic Evolution is about survival and possible futures given the continued assault on Black, Brown, Migrant, Queer, and Women’s lives.  

This mixed media installation shares a future vision of marginalised people evolving and relocating to Space after spending nine years under the mangrove forests of the Caribbean Sea. The future storyteller (griot) explains the process of this cosmic evolution and how people transformed and took flight to the stars, which is made possible through the magical infusion of cultural artifacts, ancestral spirits, earth and sea vibrations, and mangrove swamps. Cosmic Evolution visions a future decolonised, where our minds, bodies, and spirits feel whole; a future unbounded to capitalism, where communities thrive in harmony and healing rooted in love and acceptance; a future where we co-exist with the earth and all living creatures; a future where we are sexually, spiritually, and socially free – with consent at the root and restorative justice the path. To create our own possible Earthseed Future, we must do the work of pulling from the past and present to evolve. This project seeks to ground us back into the earth, sea, and ancestral memory, to reimagine the tools we need in order to create better, possible, and livable futures.

What is your Earthseed Vision of the Future?

Cosmic Evolution - Mixed Media Installation at Hillside House
Close Up of the Sculpture
Video surrounded by Photographs of the Mangroves which inspired my story
I took these photographs of the Mangrove Forests in Trinidad and Tobago.
I worked with NAGB Chief Curator Holly Bynoe to place the photographs and create this collage style effect.
Description of the work to accompany the installation
Promo for the Opening Reception and Reading at Hillside House

Reading at Hillside House for the Opening Reception -- NE8 Offsite.
I offered a Ritual after the reading/performance of my story Cosmic Evolution -- I opened the space with ancestor blessings and acknowledgement of land and people here before us. After storytelling, I shared my manifesto and Earthseed visioning of this new Earth/space and the kind of community I would want to create. I asked participants to join me in visioning of our Caribbean futures. I invited them to write down on pieces of fabric what magical artifacts or objects they would take with them AND/OR what kind of community or new world they would create. Each person left their message near the sculpture. And I gave each person who contributed a seed to keep with them for future visioning. It was a powerful ritual of exchange and visioning for me as an artist. This was my first solo performance art piece and I am forever grateful to the staff and curatorial team at NAGB for this amazing opportunity. I want to especially give thanks to Holly Bynoe for creating spaces and expansive visioning for what art is and how we can engage community. Thank you Holly! 💜

The sculpture with offerings from participants after the ritual
Close up of some of the offerings
Engaging the work - friends and family :)

Another Promo for the Opening featuring one of my photographs of the Tobago Mangrove Forest
Description of NE8
NE8 OFFSite Artists
Grateful for this experience and being able to share my art at home :)
Another view of the photographs and video.

I am also very grateful to be in the region these past few years -- teaching, working, living, and in the struggle for Caribbean freedom. Trinidad and Tobago is an ancestral home for me and is also now feeling completely homespace. I am happy to share my Cosmic Evolution first in my birthplace/home Nassau, Bahamas, but as it was created in and inspired by sweet T&T I will also be sharing it in Trinidad - soon soon!

happy new year blessings & conscious vibes.
may this new year bring renewal & fortitude for continuing struggles & resistance.
choose our weapons wisely. vision boldly & stay rooted. 
conjure freedom tools. be defiant.

peace love blessings in abundance! and more from me in 2017!
Angelique (sistella black)

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