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.

Online Listening Session with Lamin Fofana and Serubiri Moses


Sunday, May 24
Join us for a listening session of three new electronic tracks by artist Lamin Fofana as featured in his New York debut exhibition BLUES at Mishkin Gallery (Baruch, CUNY). Fofana will be in conversation with writer and curator Serubiri Moses and the session will be moderated by BLUES curator and Mishkin Gallery director Alaina Claire FeldmanThis event is produced in collaboration with Goethe-Institut NY.

You must RSVP for this event here:

Lamin Fofana is an electronic music producer and artist based in Berlin, Germany. Fofana’s music contrasts the reality of our world with what is beyond it, and explores questions of movement, migration, alienation, and belonging. Fofana’s overlapping interests in history and the present, and his practice of transmuting text into the affective medium of sound, manifests in multisensory live performances and installations featuring original music compositions, field recordings, and archival material. Fofana established the SCI-FI & FANTASY music imprint in 2012. Releases include Another World (2015); Brancusi Sculpting Beyonce (2018); and Black Metamorphosis (2019). Recent exhibitions and performances include Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart, Germany (2019); 57th Venice Biennale, Italy (2017); and Documenta 14, Kassel, Germany and Athens, Greece (2017).

Serubiri Moses is a writer and curator who lives in New York. He is co-curator of Greater New York 2020, MoMA PS1’s survey of contemporary art. Moses was part of the curatorial team for the Berlin Biennale X (2017-2018). From 2013 to 2017, he traveled extensively to participate in curatorial residencies, conferences, and juries across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Europe. In 2015, Moses held the position of “Stadtschreiber” at the Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies, and in 2014 he co-curated the second public art biennial in Kampala, KLA ART, entitled Unmapped, and organized a four-volume public program at the Goethe Zentrum Kampala. Moses completed his Masters of Arts degree in Curatorial Studies at Bard College and is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Art Department at Hunter College.

If Zoom does not work for you, you can watch the event live on the Goethe-Institut’s Facebook page:

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.

Jim C. Nedd


Jim C. Nedd is an Afro-Colombian interdisciplinary storyteller. Co-founder of the experimental band Primitive Art alongside Matteo Pit, Nedd also works as a photographer in both advertising and editorial projects. Lamin Fofana and Jim C. Nedd have been collaborating since the release of the album Brancusi Sculpting Beyoncé in 2018. Their collaboration continues as BLUES includes sound works by Fofana accompanied by a series of photographs by Nedd taken in Valledupar, Columbia between 2018 and 2019. Below, some photographs which are included in BLUES, all courtesy of the artist.

BLUES Installation view, 2020. Courtesy of Mishkin Gallery.

BLUES Installation view, 2020. Mishkin Gallery.

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






Nicolas Premier and Alaina Claire Feldman in conversation

Alaina Claire Feldman: Nicolas Premier has come to New York for the opening of BLUES at the Mishkin Gallery (Baruch College, City University of New York). The exhibition, which is comprised of three sound works by Lamin Fofana, six photographs by Jim C Nedd and two videos by Premier, opened on March 12 to a modest audience right before the consequences and spread of the coronavirus in New York became evident. The exhibition has migrated to this online platform while the public programs have been postponed. Furthermore, flights have been cancelled and hotels shut down. In the face of this uncertainty, Premier and I have the rare opportunity to slow down, to learn about one another in a way that wouldn’t have been possible before. We’ve been discussing his practice, the videos in the exhibition, and the profound ways the coronavirus will change our lives.

To begin, let me describe BLUES. The exhibition began as an invitation for a solo exhibition to the artist / musician Lamin Fofana but because of Fofana’s penchant for collaboration and interest in the black diaspora and networks, he further extended an invitation to Nedd and Premier to join him. Fofana’s contribution is rooted in three sound works, each a translation of a formative text (Black Metamorphosis by Sylvia Wynter, Darkwater by W.E.B. Du Bois, and Blues People by Amiri Baraka) from the academic discipline known as Black Studies. Whereas such collaborations between sound and visual typically arise through a foregrounding of the visual, the opposite hold true in BLUES. Fofana’s sound works were primary; closing one’s eyes and attentively listening could conjure up all kinds of imagery in order to conceive that which is not here or possible, now. Within BLUES, agency to describe the visual was handed over to Premier and Nedd. Two videos by Premier, I ran from it but was still in it (2020) and Black Metamorphosis (2019) are projected in two different galleries in conversation with scores of the same titles by Fofana. Waking into the gallery, one encounters the sounds before the videos.
Nicolas, hi. Could you explain how the first collaboration around Black Metamorphosis (2019) came to be? When did you first meet Lamin Fofana and how did you go about creating the beautiful and evocative videos currently on view in BLUES? The material is both archival and that which you filmed yourself.
Nicolas Premier: Lamin and I met in Stuttgart where there was a show of my photography in conjunction with Membrane Festival, a literature festival where Lamin was also performing. I shared a version of Africa is the Future with him, the video project I was unfolding at the time. And when I attended his live music performance, I immediately knew we spoke a common language. Our connection and friendship escalated quickly thereafter. A few weeks later, Lamin suggested we find a way to collaborate because he was planning to release Black Metamorphosis. He sent me the full album to listen to and I felt a special feeling with the eponym track. The material was already there by way of our respective backgrounds within the afro-diasporic experience. I remember there was a certain urgency due to a deadline, so it has been the opportunity to move intuitively.

ACF: It seems as if the main female character of this video, getting dressed up in her Carnival uniform, is some kind of stand in for Wynter herself. It’s not clear if the archival clips we see are what she’s watching on her iPhone, but oceanic images of schools of fish, waves crashing ashore, cars driving through tunnels at night juxtaposed with historic and festive Carnival processions create a paradox of loneliness for her. Was this the first time you encountered the work of Sylvia Wynter? How did her work influence the video for you?
NP: Yes, it was the first time I encountered the work of Sylvia Wynter, but I did a lot of reading and research which gave me further context and methodological frames. Her essay “1492: A New World View” really resonated with me, as she argues for a less binary view of the world after colonial expansion. I also drew a lot from her personal biography. For instance, one particular episode of Wynter’s life, almost anecdotal but that was creatively fruitful, was that she was part of a dance troupe led by the artist and choreographer Boscoe Holder from Trinidad and Tobago.
When I read, I have a deep unconscious and creative nourishment from the material rather than an immediate reaction like a stereotypical “spark” of creative genius. It’s a slow process. My starting point for this work is also heavily influenced by Lamin’s track Black Metamorphosis which is also the album title, the title of my film, and the title of Wynter’s book. The evolution of metamorphosis is deeply evocative for me as a process and as an analogy for black experiences amid capitalism. It’s within the ability, or rather the necessity, to adapt, evolve, transform, transmute one’s appearance, language, movements, culture, beliefs in order to survive. Also, the connection between these practices and Carnival as politically and playfully expressed in Brazil, the Caribbean and in communities that live in the aftermath of the transatlantic deportation and slavery was an obvious connection to me. I’m interested in merging time and space, creating passages, attending to the manifestation of bonds, and to make the aftermath of such narratives visible. Principles more than details. My work is about the other side of the screen. I attempt to interrogate the side on which you are situated. Seeing and being seen, seeing and being invisible, not see and being seen. In this video, the dancer (Sylvia Wynter’s echo) collapses in time by revisiting her own past experiences while searching and preparing for something new.

ACF: In the opposite room, and this time in black and white, your contribution is a video staring a young man. And like Black Metamorphosis, the character in I ran from it but was still in it (2020) is alone. He walks, gazes and poses through the Jardin d’Agronomie Tropicale (Garden of Tropical Agriculture) in Paris, the site of a 1907 exhibition which showcased France’s colonial powers and is very much still open to the public today. As an American, I didn’t know about this particular history until seeing this work of yours. Could you share more of your research and how the sculpture by Jean Baptiste Belloc came to play a central role?
NP: My characters in this exhibition are always filmed alone and amidst the global history of Modernity. They navigate it through their own experiences. I discovered the Jardin d’Agronomie Tropicale a few years ago when I was scouting for another project. I was intrigued after finding out that the 1907 Colonial Exhibition took place there and that you still could still find architectural remains of the pavilions, which were made to display different French colonies. What made me return to it was the visual im-pression left by the overgrown bamboo forest. After I listened to Lamin’s track I ran from it and was still in it, I returned to the Jardin and started shooting the leaves and other elements until I literally bumped into Jean Baptiste Belloc’s sculpture as I was about to leave. The sculpture consists of five parts: four female figures (the African woman, the Asian woman, the Caribbean woman and the French Republic) and a rooster (the symbol of France) atop a globe. One was seemingly unintentionally beheaded which intrigued me. After researching more, I understood that that specific sculpture was intended to embody “the” ideal African woman. She had been beheaded through petty forms of recent vandalism. I felt a great sadness, compounded with anger and the desire to commemorate and to heal. From that moment I knew that sculpture was going to be central part of the work.

ACF: While installing, we often took breaks to discuss other artworks, the US election, music, but you also generously gave the staff a private screening of one of your newest video works. For me, it’s not an overstatement to say that this work is visually and ideologically powerful. Before giving away too much, the video began with your long-term project Africa is the Future which is heterogenous in form. From visual photography and appropriation, to hosting concerts and radio shows, to talks and even clothing, Africa is the Future is a campaign, a call. It’s been a project of yours for so long, but perhaps you can tell us about what you hoped for the project to do and who you wanted it to reach.
NP: Africa is the Future was born in the wake of 9/11. I was in Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of the Congo, when it happened. Meanwhile, the Congo Civil War that broke out in 1997 was still raging on south of the capital. Ironically, this local conflict that killed more than 30,000 citizens was, and is still, mostly unknown in France and even less so in the US, despite it (the conflict) stemming from the rivalry of oil companies from both countries. I clearly remember the images of the attack in New York that immediately were broadcasted worldwide and looping on tv screens. While on phone calls with many friends back in France, I vividly remember the impression of living through a global event with them, but at the same time, I was speaking to them from the other side – the other side of the screen – from the side of the unthinkable civil war, the incommunicable, the invisible. Not to compare tragedies, but to know that there are tragedies everywhere. What impressed me the most at the time was the unconditional empathy that a vast majority of Congolese were able and willing to give toward the American people, even though they were living themselves a terrible reality for which neither France nor the US showed much solidarity, quite the opposite, a guilty silence. What I was witnessing was fundamental to understanding Modernity and its shameful and criminal but structurally essential operations. Africa is the Future, or AITF as its sometimes called, was created from that context. It is to say both, Africa gave birth to Modernity at its own costs and above all Africa survived this uninterrupted surges of violence. Probably one thing that enabled African societies to survive this violence against all odds is precisely to have keep death as a part of the human experience understood as a cycle, not as the end of it. It’s what enables them to continue to move beyond it. This notion of cycle and circularity is something that seems essential to me and from which we can imagine and embody other ways of inhabiting the Earth than the capitalist impasse.

Africa is not apart from the world, like an error or an exception. It is the rule, the structure, the central core, the real matrix from which everything has been possible in the past, everything is possible in the present and everything in the future will be possible. As the continent that suffered the most from capi-talist voraciousness, Africa intimately knows the nature of this destructive system. In all this violence, Africa has also been able to preserve and adapt to conceptual and spiritual inventions needed to give birth to the future. In a way, Africans and afro-diasporic people are the first depositaries of this history. To answer your question, I think my work and AITF in particular are not so much ideological but rather spiritual, because somehow it is all about confronting one’s individual finiteness within the biggest cycle of transformations: life and death. To do so, I don’t want to avoid any aspects of the human experience, neither it be the inner self, the economic, the politic, the cultural, the scientific, the artistic or the poetic. Rather, I want to embrace its whole spectrum and to transcend it.

ACF: I love that phrase and experience of “the other side of the screen”. Media is a construction often complicit and contingent on the violence of capitalism. Filmmakers like the Senegalese Ousmane Sembene had been working to alternatively build an African anti-colonialist and marxist cinema since the Cold War. I see your work situated within such a legacy, but you’ve also mentioned the role of a spiritual cinema. In the newest iteration of AITF, the cycles of the precolonial Kongo cosmogram are used to structure the video in four parts. Lines are then drawn from the 1532 Misericordia to the 1884 Berlin Conference to 20th century submarine cables. I know this next part of AITF is still a work in progress, but can you share just a fragment of what we might encounter?

NP: All I can say for now is that it sums twenty years of my work and that it is, beyond my control or my will, deeply connected to the contemporary moment. I came to New York early March for the BLUES exhibition at Mishkin Gallery and with the version that I showed you and the team while we installed. In fact, I had only finished it a few days before my departure from Paris. With this work, I really get the feeling that one cycle is ending and another beginning, on so many different levels. AITF came about from being in Brazzaville during 9/11. And just now, I was in NYC during the coronavirus. I already know this experience will affect the world with the same intensity as the attacks of the World Trade Center, if not more. And it will affect my work, in all likelihood. And at the moment, I’m working on a solution for sharing AITF online during the so-called “shelter in place” period. I can’t say much more, but you’ll be one of the first to know!


I ran from it but was still in it, 2020, video still. Courtesy Nicolas Premier.

Black Metamorphosis, 2019, video still. Courtesy Nicolas Premier.

Black Metamorphosis, 2019, video still. Courtesy Nicolas Premier.

BLUES installation view, 2020. Courtesy Mishkin Gallery.

I ran from it but was still in it, 2020, video still. Courtesy Nicolas Premier.

I ran from it but was still in it, 2020, video still. Courtesy Nicolas Premier.

Snapshot of the streets of Paris, 2020. Courtesy Nicolas Premier.

For more on Premier’s work, visit  

Black Metamorphosis

Black Metamorphosis is the first installment of an album trilogy inspired in part by Sylvia Wynter’s unpublished manuscript of the same title written in the 1970s.

In this album, Lamin Fofana contemplates the complicated process of understanding each other, while also desiring to accelerate the breaking of the world so we can move beyond the constraints of our time and dream up new sets of relationships. Fofana’s overlapping interests in history and contemporary circumstances and practice of transmuting text into the affective medium of sound brought him to “Black Metamorphosis” and the wider project of Black Studies. “Black Metamorphosis: New Natives in a New World” is an unpublished 900-plus page manuscript which is arguably one of the most important and most compelling interpretations of the black experience in the Western hemisphere. Its is currently archived at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem.

What happens when black people find themselves in the West? What ways are African aesthetics forced to permutate, outside the margins and in the in-between spaces, and what transformative potential lies on the outskirts of normative existence, in the “liminal zones”?

Reflecting on the sonorous power of Sylvia Wynter, Black Metamorphosis is an attempt to transmute Fofana’s interpretation of a concept he finds deeply inspiring and illuminating of his own experience as a black African in contemporary Europe.

LISTEN: Black Metamorphosis by Lamin Fofana

(If you like what you hear, please purchase the album directly here from the artist)