The Africa Center Portal

Photo: Anita Ng, FRAME Studios. Art: Victor Ekpuk

The Africa Center Portal

Created by artist Amar C. Bakshi in 2014, Portals are a network of interconnected, immersive audiovisual environments. When you enter one, you are met by someone in a distant Portal and can speak to each other as if in the same room. They are placed in environments as diverse as cultural centers, schools, refugee sites, conferences, and public parks, and have been applied in dozens of contexts, including distance learning, policy discussions, business meetings, musical collaborations, and open dialogues.
Portals is what happens when we are intentional about building communication technology for the public good. Despite incredible advancements, few of us use social media to communicate authentically with people different from ourselves. Portals create space for intimate, genuine moments that bring the world to local communities — an Internet you can walk through.
Over the coming year, Shared_Studios is working in partnership with The Africa Center to develop content and programming that connects African diaspora communities in New York with the world, live and full-body. From digital salon pop-ups to theatrical performances, artist talks, innovation pitch-offs, and Shared_Meals, communities across the global African diaspora will connect for meaningful dialogue, performance, and exchange.
Sign-up for Portal sessions will be coming soon via our Shared_Studios page – in the meantime, please drop in for any of the scheduled connections below. For more information or to propose programming, reach out to the Portal Curator at #TheAfricaCenterPortal

Upcoming Programming in The Africa Center Portal

Below is a list of upcoming Portal connections by the location of the Portal we will be connecting to, date, time, and theme. Join us!

Thursday, February 20
Kigali, Rwanda
1.00 – 2.30PM
Black Renaissance — Always on the Beat: DJ’s Listen// Listening
As part of Black Renaissance programming for February 2020 we invite you to join us in a conversation with DJ’s about the migration of African Diaspora Sound, global interest in Afro Beats, and creating site specific sounds that engage history and migration.

Friday, February 21
El Progreso, Honduras
5.00 – 7.00PM
Black Renaissance — Black Cine III: On our Land: Being Garifuna in Honduras

Join us for a screening of the short documentary On Our Land: Being Garifuna in Honduras, as part of Black Cine, a series of Afro Latinx films. On Our Land is a documentary based on the Indigenous Garifuna culture in Honduras on the history, culture, social, and transnational struggles for the ethnic group in Honduras, Central America. Following the screening we will be having a conversation with the #ElProgresoPortal about the film.

DARK SPIRALS: “Connecting through Movement(s)”
Join us February 22nd 10am – 3pm for “Connecting through Movement(s)” a day long durational performance with Tsedaye Makonnen where we will travel through the portal located inside The Africa Center across the globe meditating on relationships of Black diasporic movements.  A prayer – ode – seance – invitation – from here to the Middle East – Africa – Europe – South America. As part of our “Black Renaissance” programming – a month long celebration of global Black on the centennial of the Harlem Renaissance at The Africa Center & “Dark Spirals: FESTAC 77” a gathering on FESTAC ‘77 (Festival of Arts and Culture – Lagos, Nigeria in 1977) – a series dedicated to untangling the context of one the largest Pan-African celebrations on the continent. Powered by Shared_Studios.

About the Artist
Tsedaye Makonnen’s studio and research-based practice explores the blurring between and transience of borders and identities, often using her body as the conduit and the material. Further creating new visual language that portrays our geographic and ancestral connectivity across manufactured borders and circumstances. As of late, her work is an abstracted participatory intervention drawing from universal designs from the Horn of Africa and found throughout the Diaspora that is both an intimate memorialization and protective sanctuary for Black lives.

Sunday, February 22
Gaza City, Palestine
10.00 – 11.00AM
Black Renaissance — Building Movements//Breaking Borders
Join us for weekly classes with Palestine in #GazaCityPortal on Black solidarity//political relationships with the Middle East, from the 1960’s to the present. We will be joined by Within Our Lifetime NYC to lead discussion on Malcolm X’s 1964 trip to Palestine, as well as ongoing concerns for Africans, Palestinians and diasporic communities.

Tuesday, February 25
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
5.00 – 7.00PM
Black Renaissance — “From Harlem with Love”
This weekly class for youth about Harlem from the Renaissance to Now with #MilwaukeePortal will join every week. We will be learning about the impact and legacy of the Harlem Renaissance across the US today, looking at movements in music, dance, poetry, literature and dance.

Thursday, February 27
Lagos, Nigeria
10.00 – 11.30AM
Afropolitanism – Art, Food, and Social Justice
Students from Georgetown Day School will join us for: Afropolitanism: Art, Food, and Social JusticeWest Africa is vast with a wide array of cultures, languages, and cuisines. These influences have begun to become more popular across borders with Ghanaian Hi-Life, Senegalese cuisines, and Nigerian dance moves. Some have called this movement Afropolitanism – the fusion of African culture with American and/or European culture. The Afropolitanism group will head to New York City, where through food, art, and music, we will begin to wrestle with the current political and social questions of cultural fusion, appreciation, and appropriation.

Friday, February 28
San Juan, Puerto Rico
6.00 – 8.00PM
Black Renaissance — Black Cine IV: Angélica
Join us every Friday for Afro-Latinx film screenings from/ connecting to Mexico, Bolivia, Puerto Rico, and Honduras. This week we will be screening Angélica, “a psychological drama that exposes the implications of racism and sexism, reflecting on how the oppressive nature of discrimination affects family relations and the individual. Angélica has to confront the decisions she must make about her life. In the process she rediscovers herself as a strong, independent, mulatto Puerto Rican woman in a globalized world.” Following the screening we will have a discussion with #SanJuanPortal about the film.

Saturday, February 29
Lagos, Nigeria
12.00 – 1.30PM
Black Renaissance — Dark Spirals: Festac Futures

For the last installment of Dark Spirals: FESTAC 77″ a convening on learning and legacy, we will explore “FESTAC futures”, and do a mapping exercise on modeling the future with learnings from FESTAC. 1977 FESTAC — or, Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture, held in Lagos, Nigeria— was a month-long convening of Africans and members of the diaspora on culture, music, politics and futurity. Every Saturday we will be working through one text from the FESTAC 77 book (scans will be available) and discussing the impact of FESTAC on contemporary organizing, culture, and politics. Discussions will be led by Zainab Aliyu, Olivia Ross and BUFU (By Us, For Us). Following the portal connection there will be a reading group from 2-4 PM with excerpts from the FESTAC 77 Book produced by Chimurenga Press.

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