PERFORMING BLACK FUTURES
Performance Studies Focus Group (PSFG) Post-Conference
Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE)
Proposals due: May 1, 2020
Detroit, MI & Online
Post-Conference Dates: Sunday, August 2 – Monday, August 3, 2020
Keynote Artists: Taylor Renee Aldridge & Jennifer Harge
Curators: Jasmine Jamillah Mahmoud & Krista Miranda
CALL FOR PAPERS AND PERFORMANCES
“In the present project, the imagination […] plays a central role: it animates the mode of knowledge production for which this project invested in Black futures calls, and it anchors a spatiotemporal organization in which ‘queer remains’ are generative, deterritorializing forces. Thinking with and through a vibrant concept of the imagination opens onto this project’s perceptions of queer times and Black futures, and of the spatial politics that might be associated with them.” (16)
-Kara Keeling, Queer Times, Black Futures
“Black futures perpetually reroute us to the here and now.” (189)
-Malik Gaines, Black Performance on the Outskirts of the Left: A History of the Impossible
During their high school years in the 1980s, Juan Atkins, Derrick May, and Kevin Saunderson fused “notions of futurism and mechanics” to develop Detroit Techno sound. On the heels of the Great Recession, Maya Stovall danced in front of Detroit’s ubiquitous liquor stories to spark conversations with residents and consciousness of the city (and its majority black residents) beyond ruin porn, emptiness, and bankruptcy discourses. In the late 2010s, Detroit-based movement artist Jennifer Harge choreographed and performed fly/drown, “a dance-folktale” that considered “the Black domestic space in the US post-Great Migration … home spaces that have been crafted by Black folks in the north after escaping white terrorism … thinking of the ways in which Black women in particular have had to organize space, or demand that the home be a site for pleasure practicing, or self-sovereignty.”  Over the past decade, Detroit born and raised playwright Dominique Morisseau authored and staged Detroit ‘67, Paradise Blue, and Skeleton Crew, three plays collabortively known as the Detroit Cycle that sketch the history, rebellions, foreclosures, conversations, and people of Motor City.
These artists have heard, imagined, and performed Detroit’s futures. Their work asks us: How might performance frame, challenge, and expand notions of the city, black feminist and queer futures, and black futurity? The 2020 Performance Studies Focus Group at ATHE Post-Conference, “Performing Black Futures,” takes up this central question.
Our keynote artists are Taylor Renee Aldridge and Jennifer Harge. Taylor Renee Aldridge is a writer and independent curator based in Detroit, Michigan. She has organized exhibitions with the Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit Artist Market, Cranbrook Art Museum, and The Luminary (St. Louis). In 2015, along with art critic Jessica Lynne, she co-founded ARTS.BLACK, a journal of art criticism for Black perspectives. Her writing has appeared in Artforum, The Art Newspaper, Art21, ARTNews, Canadian Art, ContemporaryAnd, Detroit MetroTimes, Hyperallergic and SFMoMA’s Open Space. Jennifer Harge is the artistic director of Harge Dance Stories and has worked as a movement artist for over 15 years. Her approach to form combines the multiplicity of her black and queer identities with her training in postmodern dance. Her work has been recognized by various organizations and institutions across the country in the form of fellowship, performance and residency invitations, including: Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Djerassi Resident Artists Program, Pulitzer Arts Foundation, Washington National Cathedral, Atlantic Center for the Arts, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, University of Michigan, Duke University, and Wayne State University. She is the inaugural recipient of the 2019 Eva Yaa Asantewaa Grant for Queer Women(+) Dance Artists, as well as the 2019 Dance/USA Fellowships to Artists.
The post-conference will take place on Sunday, August 2 to Monday, August 3, 2020, in Detroit, MI at Wayne State University. The Post-Conference will include activating the space of Midtown Detroit with site-specific dance artist Biba Bell, an engagement by keynotes artists Taylor Renee Aldridge and Jennifer Harge on the evening of Sunday, August 2, and additional panels on Monday, August 3. A closing bookend to ATHE’s 2020 Conference, “Drive” this PSFG Post-Conference is in partnership with the Black Theatre Association and LGBTQ Focus Groups. This post-conference is being scheduled amidst the COVID-19 global pandemic and the curators take seriously the health and wellness of participants. As global updates continue, we will modify the Post-Conference as needed to take place virtually (through video engagement, working group feedback, and webspace), if we are unable to meet in person.
We seek proposals for academic papers, live and/or virtual performance, performance pedagogy engagements, and experimental formats. Submissions might want to consider, but are not limited to:
Detroit’s black history, presence, and futures (Herb Boyd, Maya Stovall)
black urbanism, black geographies, and plantation futures (Katherine McKittrick)
black aesthetic styles include theatre, techno, and ballroom culture (Marlon Bailey)
black experimentation and avant-gardes (Uri McMillan, Fred Moten)
theories of balck movement and performance (Thomas DeFrantz & Anita Gonzalez)
black feminist futures (Brittney C. Cooper)
queer presence and futures (E. Patrick Johnson, Kara Keeling, Amber Musser, Tavia Nyong’o)
pasts, presences, and futures of Afrofuturism (Ytasha Womack)
the Black Radical Imagination (Robin D. G. Kelley, Erin Christovle & Amir George)
blackness quotidian “choreographies of citizenship” (Aimee Meredith Cox)
black-led tactics and “emergent strategy” such as “pleasure activism” (adrienne maree brown)
THE DEADLINE FOR PROPOSALS IS FRIDAY, MAY 1, 2020.
For paper and pedagogy proposals, please submit as one word or pdf document:
1) name and contact information (with email address),
2) an abstract (~300 words), and
3) a brief biography (~250 words);
4) thoughts on what your preferred virtual engagement might look like
For performance and experimental format proposals, please submit as one word or pdf document:
1) name and contact information (with email address),
2) description of performance or experimental format (~300 words),
3) a brief biography (~250 words),
4) technical requirements, duration, and thoughts on what your preferred virtual engagement might look like
and, if applicable, 5) up to six jpeg images, link to an online portfolio, or other relevant media.
Please submit proposals and any questions to post-conference curators Jasmine Mahmoud and Krista Miranda at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Use the subject line “Performing Black Futures.”
We will notify all participants by May 15, 2020.
 Adriel Thorton, “Juan Atkins, Derrick May + Kevin Saunderson in Conversation,” MOCAD, Youtube, 1 September, 2016: https://youtu.be/pt4aQEXqMRw
 Will Furtado, “Show Me Your Shelves! Jennifer Harge: The Home as a Site of Pleasure,” Contemporary And, 19 November 2019: https://www.contemporaryand.com/magazines/jennifer-harge-the-home-as-a-site-of-pleasure/