In 1971, jazz musician and “cosmological philosopher” Sun Ra gave a series of lectures at the University of California titled “The Black Man in the Cosmos.” Later, these formed the basis for the film Space Is the Place, an early example of what is now known as Afrofuturism. In this melding of concert film and science fiction, Sun Ra and his Arkestra create a home for Black people on a distant planet.
This installation sees the French media artist Kitoko Diva reaching back to Sun Ra’s lectures and film, and connecting them with the protests in France that were sparked by the death of Adama Traoré in 2016. Traoré died following his heavy-handed arrest, and his name came to the fore again this year after the killing of George Floyd in the U.S. Diva links the archive material with the incendiary here and now, blending mythology and historical narrative. The installation juxtaposes Sun Ra’s hopeful vision of a place that is home to Black people, somewhere in the cosmos, with the absence of such a place in the present.