documenta fifteen: Black Quantum Futurism, Clepsydra Stage, 2022, installation view, Rondell, Kassel, June 10, 2022, photo: Nicolas Wefers

Black Quantum Futurism sets forth new connections of time and space at Documenta 15

08 Jul 2022

The Collide-award winners present three projects, including a sound sculpture that features their interviews with CERN physicists

Organized by the Jakarta-based group ruangrupa, the 2022 Documenta 15 builds its foundation on the core values and ideas of lumbung, the Indonesian term for a communal rice barn where surplus goods or harvests are stored for future use and shared by the community. Throughout 100 days, ruangrupa and the lumbung members (artists and collectives) activate the city of Kassel in 32 venues that are constantly changing as decided by the artists, creating places to meet, discuss, and learn. The curators put forward the lumbung agrarian model to ‘strive for a different kind of collaborative model of resource use—in economic terms but also with regard to ideas, knowledge, programs and innovations.’

In 2020, Black Quantum Futurism – the collective practice of Camae Ayewa and Rasheedah Phillips – received the Collide Award, completing a joint residency between CERN and the city of Barcelona at Hangar, Centre for Art Research and Production, and in connection with the Institute of Cosmos Sciences (ICCUB). Their writing, films, installations and performances draw on sources such as Afrodiasporan temporalities, quantum physics and speculative fiction as frameworks through which to reconnect to the past and create new futures.

At Documenta 15, BQF present three projects. Along the Fünffensterstraße/Frankfurter Straße underpass, the time-space travel capsule Black Grandmother Clock (Oral Futures Booth) (2021) offers a series of prompts to Kassel locals and visitors and invites them to record their oral stories around communities, housing, and neighbourhoods. The ever-growing soundscape archive brings together local memories with visions of the future, registering undocumented stories for the public memory. 


Activated upon standing underneath, the adjacent sound sculpture Temporal Confessional (2021) incorporates three soundscapes that feature interviews between Rasheedah Phillips and CERN physicists merged with sound field recordings of the laboratory’s technological landscapes. The audio installation calls forth all the possible worlds that quantum physics offers beyond the limitations of traditional, linear notions of time. To confront issues of temporality afforded by the prime meridian, Black Quantum Futurism also installed posters in the Fünffensterstrasse from their ongoing research project, claiming ‘Restore Black Temporal Realities’; ‘We demand temporal reparations. Yesterday, now and tomorrow!’.

Using the ancient timepiece known as a clepsydra, BQF created an interactive platform on the bank of the Fulda River called The Clepsydra Stage (2022). The abstracted water clock consists of three entangled that reference a form of temporality defined by the flow of water. During documenta fifteen, other participants will activate the interactive stage as a space for local marginalized communities to express and exchange. Demanding the urgency for temporal and racial justice, Black Quantum Futurism’s works at Documenta provide powerful narratives for the liberation of the dominant spatial-temporal consciousness.


Main image: documenta fifteen: Black Quantum Futurism, Clepsydra Stage, 2022, installation view, Rondell, Kassel, June 10, 2022, photo: Nicolas Wefers