PAST & FUTURE VISIONS OF RADICAL CHANGE
African revolutions and liberation movements have created visual archives which are constantly in shift. „Revolution 3.0“, one of the five research projects of the Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies, has been working on the continuous production of these archives and their activation in the present from different perspectives in the past months, together with fellows and colleagues at the Bayreuth Academy. The research topics ranged from visualizations of women’s futures, to anarchic archives, figures such as heroes and messengers, and images of fashion and beauty.
Underlying was the thesis that Africa – as a continent between projected dystopia and departure — and its diasporas have produced diverse utopias and imaginations of future which live in relation with other „image worlds“ but constitute independent archives. Such visions draw on the pool of images and texts provided by the visual archives of revolutions and liberation struggles, which are remixed, re-interpreted or repeated in different dispositives such as painting, photography and audiovisual media, ranging from music video to fashion events. As much as referencing existing visions, such imaginations create new, ‚reflexive’ but robust imageries. The ‘seismographic power’ of images and the sustainable radicality of icons lies in their ability to flex their meaning to meeting another future — the one coming into being at the moment of actualization.
„Future“ in this reading does not exist as a linear construction in the sense of a „forward ever“; but as an intervention in the present; a moment of change, a ‚critical juncture‘ for an - in either way - different time. Central to our investigation were diachronic and transcultural filiations within visual culture in the ‚longue durée’ of lusophone Africa. These images are part of visual memory cultures and are enmeshed with thriving political-social movements and recent medial transformations.
Based on our findings, we developed a range of events and debates, from November to February 2016, which put our questions and theses into conversation with our colleagues and guests: In the Workgroup F organized by subproject “Revolution 3.0” we aim to stimulate discussion around the topics of revolution, social change and concepts of future/s arising from there. We are interested in how futures are formulated in terms of art, philosophy, political manifesto, how they are stabilized, kept alive, re-used and re-shaped. Our focus is on images – how they ‘speak’ of/about revolution and futures — both as singular photographic images and works of art, as well as films and video art.