We are excited to announce the release of Africa is the Future, a film by Nicolas Premier, one of Lamin Fofana’s collaborators for BLUES.

Now free and streaming online at

Africa is the Future is a film in four parts and countless years in the making. While nonlinear, and appropriating the cycle of the Kongo Cosmogram, the film begins with the story of the Portuguese Misericordia, a ship that in 1532 experienced a Kongolese slave rebellion and then mysteriously disappeared at sea. Tracing first the slave routes throughout the Atlantic, mapped over by the first telegraphs and to today’s undersea fiber optic cables, a network between three continents and their dependency on racial capitalism, on slavery, imperialism and dispossession begins to appear. Each movement is framed by a piecing blue, the color of the ocean and early computer monitoring software, which is enmeshed in a graded portal, a sort of technocratic black hole to the unknown. Premier uses his own footage and those appropriated from African and American popular culture, as well as his native France – clips of sports, films, news, documentaries and interviews – spliced together in what Premier calls four “movements”. Each week, a new movement is released.


Lamin Fofana: BLUES, installation view, Mishkin Gallery, 2020. Courtesy of Mishkin Gallery.

BLUES centers on sound while it foregrounds listening as a generative and participatory practice to contend with contemporary issues involving blackness, migration, and displacement. It asks questions such as how can African American literature and theory translate into music and be put into circulation to be approached anew?

Still, as we have discussed on the blog, the works of artists Nicolas Premier and Jim C. Nedd add visuals produced in the imaginary and influenced by the music of Lamin Fofana. To make aspects of this exhibition accessible in the digital realm, Mishkin Gallery is interested in exploring the influences and discourses around the work in more depth. Today, we share with you what the exhibition looks like when installed through images, video, and audio clips. While this material does not attempt to replicate the experience of being in the gallery, we do hope to reopen again when the time and conditions are safe.

You can access an audio guide of the exhibition in an earlier post on our blog here.

Jim C. Nedd, Black Metamorphosis, 2018. Digital C-print. Courtesy of the artist.

Black Metamorphosis by Lamin Fofana
Lamin Fofana, Black Metamorphosis, 2019. Digital audio recording, 5’53″. Courtesy of the artist.

Nicolas Premier, Black Metamorphosis, 2019. Video still. Courtesy of the artist.

Lamin Fofana: BLUES, installation view, Mishkin Gallery, 2020. Courtesy of Mishkin Gallery.

Lamin Fofana: BLUES, installation view, Mishkin Gallery, 2020. Courtesy of Mishkin Gallery.

Lamin Fofana: BLUES, installation view, Mishkin Gallery, 2020. Courtesy of Mishkin Gallery.

Jim C. Nedd, Wendy Johana, Valledupar, 2018. Digital C-print. Courtesy of the artist.

Lamin Fofana: BLUES, installation view, Mishkin Gallery, 2020. Courtesy of Mishkin Gallery.

Jim C. Nedd, Alasdir, 2018. Digital C-print. Courtesy of the artist.

Lamin Fofana: BLUES, installation view, Mishkin Gallery, 2020. Courtesy of Mishkin Gallery.

Jim C. Nedd, Paula en la Mula, 2018. Digital C-print. Courtesy of the artist.

Jim C. Nedd, Omar en la Mula, 2018. Digital C-print. Courtesy of the artist.

Lamin Fofana: BLUES, installation view, Mishkin Gallery, 2020. Courtesy of Mishkin Gallery.

Jim C. Nedd, Raises del Caribe, 2018. Digital C-print. Courtesy of the artist.

Nicolas Premier, I ran from it and was still in it, 2020. Video still. Courtesy of the artist.

Darkwater by Lamin Fofana
Lamin Fofana, I ran from it and was still in it, 2020. Digital audio recording, 6′. Courtesy of the artist.

Reading List

As we have learned through the work of Lamin Fofana, listening is as important as speaking, particularly in such difficult times. The exhibition BLUES attempts to create a space of recovery from the violent reality of racism that is systemic and needs to be undone. Learning is just a beginning, and it is unending.

Baruch College was founded as the Free Academy in 1847, the first publicly financed college in the nation, and one built on eradicating injustice. The work of Baruch College’s faculty has been addressing and transforming education on anti-blackness for a long time. By no means a full comprehensive list, here are a few publications by faculty that are are exemplary. Please consider buying these books locally or follow the links to purchase them directly from the publishers.


Clarence Taylor
Fight the Power: African Americans and the Long History of Police Brutality
Fight the Power examines the explosive history of police brutality in New York City and the black community’s long struggle to resist it. Taylor brings this story to life by exploring the institutions and the people that waged campaigns to end the mistreatment of people of color at the hands of the police, including the black church, the black press, black communists and civil rights activists. Taylor challenges the belief that police reform is born out of improved relations between communities and the authorities arguing that the only real solution is radically reducing the police domination of New York’s black citizens.

Tuzyline Jita Allan
Womanist and Feminist Aesthetics
Alice Walker’s womanist theory about black feminist identity and practice also contains a critique of white liberal feminism. This is the first in-depth study to examine issues of identity and difference within feminism by drawing on Walker’s notion of an essential black feminist consciousness.Allan defines womanism as a “(r)evolutionary aesthetic that seeks to fully realize the feminist goal of resistance to patriarchal domination,” demonstrated most powerfully in The Color Purple.

Shelly Eversley
The Real Negro: The Question of Authenticity in Twentieth-Century African American Literature
In this book, Shelly Eversley historicizes the demand for racial authenticity – what Zora Neale Hurston called ‘the real Negro’ – in twentieth-century American literature. Eversley argues that the modern emergence of the interest in ‘the real Negro’ transforms the question of what race an author belongs into a question of what it takes to belong to that race. The Real Negro foregrounds how investments in black racial specificity illuminate the dynamic terms that define what makes a text and a person ‘black’, while it also reveals how ‘blackness’, spoken and authentic, guards a more fragile, because unspoken, commitment to the purity and primacy of ‘whiteness’ as a stable, uncontested ideal.

Barbara Katz Rothman
Weaving a Family – Untangling Race and Adoption
Drawing on her own experience as the white mother of a black child, on historical research on white people raising black children from slavery to contemporary times, and pulling together work on race, adoption, and consumption, Rothman offers us new insights for understanding the way that race and family are shaped in America today. This book is compelling reading, not only for those interested in family and society, but for anyone grappling with the myriad issues that surround raising a child of a different race.

Marisa Solomon
“The Ghetto is a Gold Mine”: The Racialized Temporality of Betterment
Gentrification makes trash a discursive and material index of degeneration, mobilizing projects to “clean” and “better” neighborhoods and people. This ethnographic article explores how trash’s movements and labor reveal the spatialized and temporalized racial histories of neighborhood transformation in the historically black neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant (Bed-Stuy), Brooklyn and the gentrified town of Norfolk, Virginia.

Angie Beeman
Walk the Walk but Don’t Talk the Talk: The Strategic Use of Color‐Blind Ideology in an Interracial Social Movement Organization
This study examines color-blind rhetoric among European American, Latino/a, and African American activists working in the same group. This paper also evaluates weaknesses in the conceptual work on “color-blind racism” and proposes new concepts that clarify the relationship between ideology and systemic racism.  Building on this work, she has also examined the effect of color-blind ideology on the development of Occupy Wall Street’s “Declaration of the Occupation of New York City.”


Bridgett Davis
The World According to Fannie Davis: My Mother’s Life in the Detroit Numbers
Set against the dramatic backdrop of 1960s and 70s Detroit, novelist Bridgett M. Davis’s stirring memoir tells the story of how her larger-than-life mother used Detroit’s illegal lottery to support her family.

Regina A. Bernard
Say it Loud: Black Studies, its Students, and Racialized Collegiate Culture
This work pays homage to the earliest Black Studies programs in the United States, particularly to those programs that spawned from strong pedagogical, revolutionary social movements, and student-based organic and traditional academic practices. Briefly presenting a look at the rich history of the birth of what became a student-led movement for social and intellectual change, the book considers the various plights of Black Studies programs, and how students have been cheated out of the revolutionary academic practices of their predecessors. The book also offers examples of how Black Studies programs can once again take a student-centered approach, one that wishes to seek change not solely for Black students, but for everyone who believes in change at larger, deeper, and more personally-connected levels of learning.

Marcus Johnson
From Racial Democracy to Racialized Democracy in Latin America
“This essay aims to move toward a more nuanced understanding of race in Latin America, where it has often been assumed not to matter for electoral politics… In this essay, I argue that the absence of explicit black identity mobilization is not evidence that race politics is immaterial to electoral politics, but rather provokes the question of why racial cleavages are politically inactive despite their social salience. In doing so, I challenge scholars to think more critically about race in contexts where it does not appear to matter at first glance.”

Samuel D. Johnson
Toward Clarifying Culture, Race, and Ethnicity in the Context of Multicultural Counseling
This text considers use of and suggests referents for the terms, race, culture, and ethnicity, in multicultural counseling. Discusses findings from a pilot study of culture and race concepts. Recommends clarification of terminology in counselor education and specification of intended referents in counseling research.

Johanna Fernández
The Young Lords – A Radical History
Utilizing oral histories, archival records, and an enormous cache of police records released only after a decade-long Freedom of Information Law request and subsequent court battle, Johanna Fernández has written the definitive account of the Young Lords, from their roots as a street gang to their rise and fall as a political organization. Led predominantly by poor and working-class Puerto Rican youth, and consciously fashioned after the Black Panther Party, the Young Lords confronted race and class inequality and questioned American foreign policy. Their imaginative, irreverent protests and media conscious tactics won significant reforms and exposed U.S. mainland audiences to the country’s quiet imperial project in Puerto Rico. In riveting style, Fernández demonstrates how the Young Lords redefined the character of protest, the color of politics, and the cadence of popular urban culture in the age of great dreams.

Blues People

Blues is the title of this exhibition, but it also shares a name with the forthcoming album by Lamin Fofana. And All the Birds Sing Bass, 2020 (15’35 mins), a track from that album, plays continuously throughout the center gallery off two, large standing speakers. This forthcoming album is inspired by Amiri Baraka’s ground-breaking Blues People: Negro Music in White America (1963), published under Baraka’s former name LeRoi Jones in the midst of the civil rights movement. Baraka’s book is an influential meditation on blues music and its creators. It was his philosophical and personal response to outline the economic and political history of developments in African American music, as well as the erasure of its inventiveness. In his introduction to the book, Baraka describes his endeavor as:

“The path the slave took to ‘citizenship’ is what I want to look at. And I make my analogy through the slave citizen’s music — through the music that is most closely associated with him: blues and a later, but parallel development, jazz… [If] the Negro represents, or is symbolic of, something in and about the nature of American culture, this certainly should be revealed by his characteristic music.“[1]

As a collection of voices of musicians shaped by the experiences of slavery, racism and poverty, Blues People takes a physical form in Fofana’s multi-sensory space through an atmosphere of sound, light and incense. Affectively, this prompts the listener to encounter and confront Baraka’s insistence on tracing back the genre, blues, to historicize black musical forms and aesthetics. Fofana designated this part of the exhibition to Baraka’s Blues People as a “calm reflection” on cultural production in an alien world of appropriated symbols. This part of the exhibition was designed as an open space that grounds the sound and light spilling from the two other rooms where Nicolas Premier’s videos are projected. This is not a transitional space connecting the other rooms in the gallery. It does not dictate where the exhibition or viewers should continue, but is rather a meeting point with a table of referential books and plants, inviting guests to linger and listen intently.

To learn more about one of the prominent referential materials for the exhibition and Baraka’s other written work, please visit:

[1] LeRoi Jones, [Amiri Baraka], Blues People: Negro Music in White America (New York: Morrow, 1963), ix-xii

BLUES Booklet

Literature and writing on art is core to the mission of Mishkin Gallery in that it helps to expand and deepen one’s understanding of the artworks on view. Every exhibition we produce is accompanied by a free booklet often including curatorial essays, interviews, reprints and more. For BLUES, we published hard copies of the booklet and are now sharing the digital version as well. We hope you will enjoy reading this edition.

“Unsettling the Blues” by Alaina Claire Feldman
“Oceanic Sound” Lamin Fofana and Dino Dinçer Sirin
Excerpts of texts selected by Lamin Fofana:
“Black Metamorphosis: A Prelude to Sylvia Wynter’s Theory of the Human” by Derek White
“Darkwater: Voices from Within the Veil” by W.E.B. Du Bois
“Blues People: Negro Music in White America” by Amiri Baraka
With images by Nicolas Premier and Jim C. Nedd

Download the booklet HERE.

Exhibition as Ensemble

Lamin Fofana, Black Metamorphosis (Sci-Fi & Fantasy, 2019)

A quote from Fred Moten’s 2003 book In the Break: The Aesthetics of Black Radical Tradition reads on the face of Lamin Fofana’s record Black Metamorphosis, released from Sci-Fi & Fantasy in 2019: “The West is an insane asylum, a conscious and premeditated receptacle of black magic.”[1]

In the Break is a polyphonic performance, an orchestrated writing on the theory of performance of blackness, composed together with the voices of other artists, poets, theorists, and musicians. Moten presents us with an ethos of culture, politics, sexuality and identity that exposes the exclusionary Euro-American avant-garde, that is “necessarily not black”, while creating an aural lineage of black radical aesthetic. He reformulates the codes of the avant-garde –“an assertion that blackness is an avant-garde thing”[2] by redescribing a kind of aesthetic  based on improvisation, an artform that disrupts the conventional framework of self and other, and requires a practice of listening to activates the entire sensorium, which is what Moten calls “ensemble”.

Fred Moten (left) and Lamin Fofana (right) at “Afrolution Festival 2019” in Berlin, Germany.

Lamin Fofana conceived of BLUES, which is also an ensemble, by inviting two other artists (Jim C. Nedd and Nicolas Premier) to create a body of sensorium that speaks to different senses without eliminating or excluding one another –a cohabitation of self and other. Moten’s ideas are echoed in this exhibition as ensemble alongside Sylvia Wynter, James Baldwin, Amiri Baraka, Beauford Delaney, Samuel R. Delany, Adrian Piper, Cecil Taylor and others who have influenced Fofana’s work.

Fred Moten giving his keynote speech at “The Sound of Resistance Conference: Improvising Agency Conference 2017” as a part of Vision Festival 22 at Columbia University.

As an attempt to better understand some of the referential material in the exhibition, we revisit Moten’s 2017 keynote lecture/listening session “A Resistant Previousness” at Columbia University’s The Sound of Resistance Conference.


[1] Fred Moten: In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota 2003, p. 39

[2] Ibid, 32





Lamin Fofana: BLUES Audio Guide

While navigating this difficult and confusing time together, Mishkin Gallery will continue to share art that presents enlightening modes of consolation within our current state of domestic solitude. We are temporarily moving the Gallery program online to this Mishkin Gallery Blog, first focusing on Lamin Fofana’s exhibition BLUES which, in every respect, aligns with our mission.

BLUES is centered on three sound works. They are Fofana’s thoughtful sonic translations of Sylvia Wynter’s unpublished manuscript Black Metamorphosis from the 1970s, W.E.B. Du Bois’ Darkwater: Voices from Within the Veil (1920), and Amiri Baraka’s Blues People: Negro Music in White America (1963). These precise and pulsing sounds will evoke other spaces such as the shores of the Atlantic or the Jardin d’Agronomie Tropicale in Paris, or even spaces we don’t typically inhabit such as the cosmos, the atmosphere, and the deep sea. Because listening enables us to produce new sonic conceptions of the world, it also consequently brings about new understandings not only of art but of subjectivity and sociality. We hope that this material will transcend the experience of visiting our gallery, transmitting the artwork directly to your kitchen table.

Each Monday we will post new content to the Blog, beginning with a descriptive audio guide to the exhibition developed and produced by Višnja Begović, Mishkin Gallery’s 2019-2020 Nagelberg Fellow. Begović has created a guide that provides formal descriptions, context, and information of works in the exhibition. We remain dedicated to our artists, art workers, friends, students and faculty and are excited to continue to work with you in new and innovative ways.

You can download our exhibition handout here and to access the audioguide please continue.