Like the rest of the nation, I woke up this morning to an unfathomable reality. Despite our best efforts, the country has chosen hate and division. Those dystopian science-fiction novels don’t feel so far off anymore. Still, we at The Nerds of Color must soldier on. I’m doing that by participating in CTRL+ALT, the Smithsonian’s pop-up Culture Lab on imagined futures this weekend in New York City. Though, to be honest, I’m having a difficult time imagining the present, much the less the future.
Like the CrossLines pop-up in May, the Smithsonian has gathered over 40 artists and scholars to recontextualize the future to be inclusive of all marginalized communities. And after last night’s election results, art like this is more vital and necessary than ever.
CTRL+ALT: A Culture Lab on Imagined Futures is a pop-up museum experience on November 12-13, 2016 in the former home of the Pearl River Mart in SoHo, New York City. Presented by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, CTRL+ALT will explore science fiction, fantasy, comics, and other platforms of alternate reality as spaces of refuge and innovation for marginalized communities. It will include art installations, performances, and maker spaces that ask how emerging forms of media, once considered fringe, can envision more sustainable, equitable futures for marginalized communities.
As for my part, I’ll be hosting Hard NOC Life podcasts from inside the SIUniverse Reading Lounge, where we’ve once again assembled a library of comics and sci-fi/fantasy works from POC authors and artists. I’ve also co-curated a collection of “Fan Fiction” that reimagines iconic moments in “canonical” sci fi, spec fic, fantasy, or comics. Whether the pieces subvert, intervene or extend — whether they tease out new subtexts, imagine invisible interiors or transplant stories to new arenas — the idea is to center the stories and experiences of those historically marginalized, or perhaps highlight how particular communities have been relegated to the margins of accepted reality.
Artists participating include MariNaomi, John Jennings, Tak Toyoshima, Vishavjit Singh, Amy Chu, Louie Chin, Arielle Jovellanos, Larry Hama, Jamal Igle, and the following piece I collaborated on with Jef Castro and SooJ Lee.
If you’re in New York this weekend, please stop by. We may be living in the Darkest Timeline now, but art always provides the light.