Duane Deterville: The Future Blackwards: Afrifuturism and Black Visual Culture

Programmed by Chika Okoye and David Brazil

Artist, writer, and visual culture scholar Duane Deterville delivers a presentation on the emergence of Afrifuturism (Deterville’s preferred spelling of what culture critic Mark Dery called “Afro-futurism”) and its manifestations in various media. Afrifuturism is the creation of speculative futures based in the black experience and advanced technology. Deterville details the origins of the concept in Pan-Africanist ideas and extends those ideas into graphic novels and comic books, contemporary art, film and video, Detroit techno music, and progressive jazz. He offers both a historical survey and a provocative inquiry on how the idea of Afrifuturism can be used as a tool for black liberation.

Duane Deterville’s primary interest is in African and African diasporic cultural expression. He has lectured at museums, colleges, and universities on the subject of visual culture as it relates to the African and diasporic experience. As cofounder of Sankofa Cultural Institute, Deterville produced three symposia on the history and aesthetics of jazz. He is coauthor of the book Black Artists in Oakland and a columnist for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s online publication Open Space. His visual art practice is focused on the intersection between symbols and ritual in African diasporic religions; his artwork has been shown both in the US and abroad. As a teaching artist for the Imagine Bus Project, he designed lesson plans and curriculua to teach art to incarcerated youth.