Towards Dark Fecundity - Reimagining Black futures through visual arts practice, science fiction and Greek mythology

Dyer, Sonya. 2021. Towards Dark Fecundity - Reimagining Black futures through visual arts practice, science fiction and Greek mythology. Doctoral thesis, Middlesex University [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis articulates the development of my visual art and critical practice, exploring Black, female subjectivities within speculative narratives of the future. It proposes a new term, Dark Fecundity, which seeks to describe and integrate the radical potentiality of repositioning Darkness as a synonym for Blackness within constructions of the future, alongside the reproductive capabilities implied by the term fecundity.

The thesis charts the development of my practice from 2014 - 2020 through an autoethnographic lens whilst critically engaging with Afrofuturism and a range of expansive Global Majority futurities developed by artists and thinkers, particularly those of the Black Atlantic (Gilroy, 1993.)

Towards Dark Fecundity centres the work of writer Octavia Butler as a frame through which to consider the transformative practice of destabilising hegemonic narratives within the expanded field of speculative fiction. Alongside Butler, Ursula Le Guin’s ‘carrier bag’ theory of fiction is a guide through which my work has manifested in a range of forms including ‘socially engaged’ practice (Helguera, 2011), workshops, video and installation.

This thesis charts the development of my practice, including the development, employment and rejection of the now extant term aPOCalypso. Through exploring notions of ‘service’ (Fraser, 1994) my practice is discussed in relation to shifts in the funding and commissioning landscape in England over the last decade.

Finally, the critical and artistic work discussed in Towards Dark Fecundity introduces my ongoing project, Hailing Frequencies Open (2018-), which is led by a trilogy of influences - the Greek myth of Andromeda, the dubious legacy of HeLa cells and Nichelle Nichols’ pivotal work with NASA. My research places this trilogy at the nexus of concerns around Black womanhood, futurity, temporality and world building.

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Thesis (Doctoral)

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Date Deposited:

07 Jun 2023 08:31

Last Modified:

19 Jun 2023 10:56


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