Inspired by an expedition into the multidimensional realms of Octavia E. Butler’s archives, writer Porsha Olayiwola and visual artist Dara Bayer explore patterns in the development of the individual and the collective. Butler, the first Black woman to win the Hugo Literary Award for science fiction, questions the cycle of self and spirit. Bayer and Olayiwola shape their answers in “reflection /abyss/ vision/ legacy.”
Visit the reflection/abyss/vision/legacy exhibition website here!
Excerpt from the website:
This exhibition, reflection / abyss / vision / legacy was an experiment. Not the usual kind of experiment to make a discovery, nor to test a hypothesis, rather an experiment of collaboration, of finding new ways to work. These forms of working are not to be found in books nor in simplistic gestures of combining individuals to pursue specific tasks, rather they are in the practices of the imagination, the radical Black imagination to be specific. When CSSJ invited Porsha Olayiwola, the world slam poetry champion and current poet laureate of Boston, and Dara Bayer, artist and activist for social justice to collaborate, we did so with an open horizon. There were no rules to follow, what was crucial was the production of a poetic/artistic project, one in which blackness in all its complexity would come alive. As the collaboration unfolded, both found that they shared a passion for the work of Octavia Butler. A visit to the Butler archives at the Huntington Library opened the project in unexpected ways. Poetry, drawings, photographs, the installation of an altar, all were now generated by the enveloping engagement with Butler, her writings, but more so with the fragments of her writings, notes, letters, and more notes. One note reads, “The only lasting truth is change.” As I read that I reflected on this moment, in which the possibilities of change seem open yet not certain. A moment in which the freedom dreams of Black people once again shake America, as they always do. What will happen after the shaking? Both Dara and Porsha provide us with a possible answer, to lift oneself up from the abyss means, “engaging with a legacy,” and that legacy is Black freedom dreams. This then is an exhibition about black possibilities, in which to cite the black musical thinker Sun Ra there is, “always something else.”