‘Dwell in Other Futures’ April 27-28

Sci-fi legend Samuel Delany anchors conference on St. Louis, Afrofuturism and the city of tomorrow

From left: Works by Reuben Reuel and Sophia Al-Maria (top row); Damon Davis, Basil Kincaid and Katherine Simóne Reynolds (middle row); and Addoley Dzegede and Autumn Knight (bottom row).

Visions of the future can shape how we see the present.

On Friday and Saturday, April 27 and 28, local and nationally known artists, architects, poets and scholars will gather in St. Louis for “Dwell in Other Futures.” Sponsored as part of Washington University’s Divided City initiative, the two-day event will explore how collisions of race, urbanism and futurism might spark fresh ideas about the city that is and the city that is to come.

“Speculating about the future helps us to understand that we’re not on an inevitable trajectory,” said Tim Portlock, associate professor at the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis. “Speculation can provide a sort of roadmap for getting to the future that we want.”

Portlock co-organized the conference with Rebecca Wanzo, associate director of the Center for the Humanities and associate professor of women, gender and sexuality studies in Arts & Sciences; and Gavin Kroeber, founder of the Studio for Art & Urbanism.

Guest speakers are scheduled to include: legendary science fiction author Samuel Delany, one of the first African-American writers to find popular success in the genre; Treasure Shields Redmond, the St. Louis-based poet and activist; and Sophia Al-Maria, the Qatari-American artist, writer and filmmaker who coined the phrase “Gulf Futurism” to describe aesthetics and popular culture of the post-oil Persian Gulf.

Book cover for Samuel Delany’s “Babel 17,” winner of the 1967 Nebula Award for Best Novel.

“Afrofuturism and St. Louis are definitely starting points, but we also want to think nationally and globally,” Portlock said. “How can cities around the world continue to survive and thrive — not just materially, but also socially?”

“The Autumnal City”

“Dwell in Other Futures” will begin at 7 p.m. Friday at the Kranzberg Arts Foundation’s .ZACK arts facility, 3224 Locust St. Delany is scheduled to lead a conversation on “The Autumnal City,” followed by a pop-up exhibition featuring new commissions from Damon Davis, Sam Fox School alumna Addoley Dzegede and the collaborative duo Basil Kincaid and Reuben Reuel.

The festival will continue at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, 3716 Washington Blvd. Events are to include “You’re the Only Reason I’m Staying Here,” a new commission by artist Katherine Simóne Reynolds; Autumn Knight‘s performance “The La–a Consortium”; and an artist talk by Mendi + Keith Obadike.

Events will conclude at 5 p.m. with a series of performative “Manifestos for a Future St. Louis.” Presenters are to include: the art collective ARTC; urbanist Michael R. Allen, senior lecturer in the Sam Fox School; performer Maxi Glamour; musician ICE; poet Alison C. Rollins; and designer and Washington University alumna De Nichols, now a lecturer in the Sam Fox School.

Eric Ellingsen and Species of Space will present “the earth is blue like an orange,” a landscape performance inspired by the Chouteau Greenway. (Image: TLS Landscape Architecture | Object Territories | Derek Hoeferlin Design)

“Dwell in Other Futures” is free and open to the public, but capacity is limited and attendees are encouraged to register in advance. For a complete schedule or to RSVP, visit dwellinotherfutures.com.


“Dwell in Other Futures” is sponsored by The Divided City — an urban humanities initiative at Washington University in St. Louis funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation — and presented in partnership with the Center for the Humanities, the university’s Distinguished Visiting Scholars Program, Fabricatorz FoundationKranzberg Arts Foundation, the School of Law’s Law, Identity & Culture Initiativeprojects+gallery, Pulitzer Arts Foundation, Saint Louis Fashion Fund, Saint Louis University and the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts.

“Dwell in Other Futures” is made possible by the generous support of Adrienne Davis, Ken and Nancy Kranzberg, and Susan Sherman.

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