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The Center for Afrofuturist Studies closes out a stellar year with Interstellar 3


Interstellar 3

FilmScene — Saturday, Dec. 17 at 10:30 p.m.

Raidcal Abacus
A drawing by Anaïs Duplan at Radical Abacus in Santa Fe, New Mexico, titled “Morphologies.”

Pack away your year of cares and get ready to dance — the Center for Afrofuturist Studies is celebrating! With a year under their belt now, the center is closing out 2016 the same way they welcomed it in: with a dance party of epic proportions.

The center came into being early this year, in collaboration with Public Space One, which houses the center. In a January interview with Little Village, founder Anaïs Duplan said, “As a culture, we think about the future almost constantly, these days especially. I use ‘Afrofuturism’ to refer to a particular way of thinking about the future — namely, with Black and POC lives in mind (and in heart).”

In a recent email, Duplan reflected back on the successes of this past year.

“Tiona McClodden hit the ground running, made a self-portrait every day for the week she was here, did an artist talk and an exhibition, researched Ana Mendieta (as did Krista Franklin, our September resident) and made her youth workshop into a photo shoot,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of events this year. Some were public, like the artist talks and screenings, etc., but the youth workshops, which are always private, also stick out in my mind too. There was a lot of manifesto-writing — three artists this year did manifesto-building in their youth workshops. It was cool to see how those themes reverberated through the year.”

Tiona McClodden in residence at the Center for Afrofuturist Studies
Work by Tiona McClodden, the Center for Afrofuturist Studies’ first artist-in-residence.

The past year has been one of growth for the center, both logistically and conceptually. While much of the focus at the outset was necessarily on funding and grant writing, Duplan wrote that, “Now I understand that Iowa City wants and needs the Center for Afrofuturist Studies in a way I didn’t understand last year this time.”

One of the goals for 2017 is a revamp to the way the center handles their artist residencies.

“Week-long residencies, like we did in May and December, are great,” Duplan said, “but it doesn’t give us much time to get to know our artist-in-residence or for the artist to get to know Iowa City.”

Next year, the center will have fewer residents, in town for four- to eight-week terms.

So, who’s on that list? So far, “Rin Johnson, who works in VR (virtual reality), Jade Ariana Fair, a painter and healer from Oakland and Justin Allen, a dancer and writer based in New York,” Duplan said. She also noted, “We may also collaborate with the Union for Contemporary Art in Nebraska to offer a joint residency spot.”

Also on Duplan’s radar for next year is increasing audience diversity.

“We always have a relatively racially-mixed audience,” she said, “but I also want to see younger folks and older folks. And I’d like us to do a better job of attracting an economically-diverse audience as well. Baby steps. We’re working on it!”

The Interstellar 3 event, presented in partnership with Little Village, will be held this Saturday, Dec. 17 at 10:30 p.m. at FilmScene, in the Screening Room. The cover is $5, and drinks and popcorn will be available for purchase from the FilmScene bar. There will be new Center for Afrofuturist Studies merchandise (tees, totes and stickers) available for purchase as well, designed by the Little Village creative team.

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