In ‘Afro-Fabulations: The Queer Drama of Black Life’, cultural critic and historian Tavia Nyong’o surveys the conditions of contemporary black artistic production in the era of post-blackness. Moving fluidly between the insurgent art of the 1960’s and the intersectional activism of the present day, Afro-Fabulations challenges genealogies of blackness that ignore its creative capacity to exceed conditions of traumatic loss, social death, and archival erasure.
If black survival in an anti-black world often feels like a race against time, ‘Afro-Fabulations’ looks to the modes of memory and imagination through which a queer and black polytemporality is invented and sustained. Moving past the antirelational debates in queer theory, Nyong’o posits queerness as “angular sociality,” drawing upon queer of color critique in order to name the gate and rhythm of black social life as it moves in and out of step with itself. He takes up a broad range of sites of analysis, from speculative fiction to performance art, from artificial intelligence to Blaxploitation cinema. Reading the archive of violence and trauma against the grain, ‘Afro-Fabulations’ summons the poetic powers of queer world-making that have always been immanent to the fight and play of black life.
In ‘Critical Fabulations’, Daniela Rosner proposes redefining design as investigative and activist, personal and culturally situated, responsive and responsible. Challenging the field’s dominant paradigms and reinterpreting its history, Rosner wants to change the way we historicize the practice, reworking it from the inside. Focusing on the development of computational systems, she takes on powerful narratives of innovation and technology shaped by the professional expertise that has become integral to the field’s mounting status within the new industrial economy. To do so, she intervenes in legacies of design, expanding what is considered “design” to include long-silenced narratives of practice, and enhancing existing design methodologies based on these rediscovered inheritances.
Drawing on discourses of feminist technoscience, she examines craftwork’s contributions to computing innovation—how craftwork becomes hardware manufacturing, and how hardware manufacturing becomes craftwork. She reclaims, for example, NASA’s “Little Old Ladies,” the women who built information storage for the Apollo missions by weaving wires through magnetized metal rings. Mixing history, theory, personal experience, and case studies, Rosner reweaves fibers of technoscience by slowly reworking the methods and margins of design. She suggests critical fabulations as ways of telling stories that awaken alternative histories, and offers a set of techniques and orientations for fabulating its future. ‘Critical Fabulations’ shows how design’s hidden inheritances open different possibilities for practice.
Organised with the support of Gerrit Rietveld Academie’s Studium Generale program Take a Walk on the Wild Side, taking place this week at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.