EARTH MOTHER, SKY FATHER: 2030
Visual artist Kordae Henry's seismic ritual performance draws on the likes of Sun Ra and Khalil Joseph to imagine an Afrofuturist utopia.
The Congo: 2030. Welcome to this new and mind-bending sci-fi future where the Central African nation is no longer shipping its unrefined rare earth minerals out to sea, but is keeping its wealth for itself—buried deep within the ground. Filmmaker and VFX artist Kordae Henry's powerful Afro-Futurist dance piece conceives of a historical moment when, as the Jamaican-British-American director explains, "the processes and infrastructure of mining have been revalued and ritualized as an important aspect of local culture. This is Africa's future through dance—a ceremony for the God of Rare Earth."
Featuring acclaimed street dancer Storyboard P playing Woot (a future 'Excavation Programmer'), the inspiration for this techno-ritual film stemmed originally from a New York Times article. "The piece exposed the truth behind the mineral trade and its industry in Africa, explaining how minerals were being exploited from the Congo, refined overseas, and developed into the batteries in our electronic devices" explains the Los Angeles-based director. "That day I was searching through my photographs of my time in Nairobi, where I first was aware how cellphones became one of the largest ways to distribute money through the country. I began to see a future not just for the country, but for the continent."
For Henry, this is about wresting back control, and ownership, of a vitally precious resource—and of the utopian future that such an action would represent. "I remember traveling in Kenya and standing in Nairobi on a vibrant street market near an intersection that looked like an African Times Square. I could feel the energy of this place which resonated with me. Everyone had a story." What if he could tap into these latent energies, transforming "legacies from the past in order to change the future"?
"The scars of today are left on the earth, and so the film chooses to imagine an Afrofuturist ritual that heals that land. The likes of Sun Ra, Kerry James Marshall, Nick Cave, Rammellzee, and Octavia Butler" influenced Henry's sound and aesthetic. While filmmakers such as Khalil Joseph and Arthur Jafa resonated with him, "I subconsciously and consciously chose to look outside the industry of cinema for imagery—imagery that resonated with a new understanding of a black, culturally aesthetic future."
Ultimately, after conversations with producer Liam Young, and in using the dissonant electronic haze of infamous Seattle duo Shabazz Palaces, Henry's film creates a momentous cultural moment in which future rituals and ancient mythologies are brought together. "This," concludes Henry, "is an amalgamation of thoughts into a music film of an Afrofuture."