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Artist Sonya Dyer of the …And Beyond Institute of Future Research presents Towards Andromeda.

Across space and time, this performance layers connection and conversation between multiple generations of Black women Space explorers, in their quest for a utopian homeland.

Sonya Dyer weaves together the interconnected stories that inspire Hailing Frequencies Open, a work that intersects actor Nichelle Nicols’ pioneering astronaut recruitment activism work, the dubious genesis of HeLa cells and the Greek myth of Andromeda – combining social justice with speculation, fantasy with the political.

In the 1970s, Nicols developed a pioneering astronaut recruitment programme, enabling the first American woman and the first Black man to visit space. HeLa cells – taken from the body of a young African American woman, Henrietta Lacks – are ‘immortal’ and can reproduce under practically any circumstances. These cells were the first human materials sent into Space, by the Soviets in 1960. Andromeda, the Aeithiopian princess of Ancient Greek myth, became a star constellation upon her death – home to a trillion stars.

Hailing Frequencies Open builds a world wherein the cells are still in Space, travelling towards the Andromeda Galaxy on the Anarcha II space vessel. The vessel’s name monumentalises the memory of one of the enslaved women experimented on by the scientist regarded as the father of modern gynaecology. The journey to Andromeda becomes a metaphor for the reclamation of the neglected stories of Black women of science and myth.

 

Sonya Dyer’s work explores how the future is constructed within the popular imagination.

Presented as part of Rewriting The Future.

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Sonya Dyer

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