If Black Panther Was Your Intro to Afrofuturism, Get Caught Up on Its History with Space Is the Place | Arts
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Thursday, May 24, 2018

If Black Panther Was Your Intro to Afrofuturism, Get Caught Up on Its History with Space Is the Place

Posted on Thu, May 24, 2018 at 9:41 AM

click to enlarge Space is the Place
  • Space is the Place
Thursday, May 24
Shadowbox Studio, Durham
7 p.m., free, www.shadowboxstudio.org

If Black Panther recently spread the gospel of Afrofuturism to the masses, the canon of Sun Ra, including this 1974 sci-fi film, is one of the cosmology's foundational sources. The film's genesis lies in the early seventies, when the visionary jazz musician was teaching a course on "The Black Man in the Cosmos" at UC Berkeley. These lectures formed the basis for Space Is the Place, in which a time-traveling Sun Ra and his Arkestra discover a new planet where they want to resettle African Americans. But they have to win a card game against the evil Overlord, a pimp, first. Of course, Sun Ra uses music to rally the youth to his cause, even as the Overlord works to poison their minds and NASA scientists try to steal his space-travel secrets. The freewheeling psychedelic narrative is the result of experimental structuring and editing techniques, but it conceals a systemic indictment of the white power structure and how it can co-opt even African Americans. See it at Shadowbox with Sun Ra tunes spinning before and after.

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