Dreamed Native Ancestry (DNA)

Image from a past mission, courtesy the artists; photo: Diana Agunbiade-Kolawole

Mission//Misplaced Memory
(Gary Stewart, Trevor Mathison, Gaylene Gould, Zaynab Bunsie)

Arts Catalyst presents Dreamed Native Ancestry (DNA) by artist-led group Mission//Misplaced Memory, an installation and programme critically addressing and re-thinking contemporary issues around race, migration, biopolitics and culture, drawing on Afrofuturist philosophies, anthropology, and fiction.

Preview: Wednesday 22 November 2017, 6:30 - 9pm.


The Mission crew has travelled back from the future. There, the human population is dying out due to a quest for genetic homogeneity, which has led to a weakened and disease-prone human race. Cultural accumulation has ceased and humanity’s knowledge growth, technological advancement and story-making capabilities have come to a standstill. Future humanity is on the brink of extinction. The Mission crew is tasked to travel through time, collecting samples, stories and knowledge from the cultural and genetic richness of humanity’s past – particularly at points of concentrated migration and cultural exchange – to deposit in a vast human memory vault that will re-seed the human race of the future. 
London – King’s Cross – 2017 has been identified as one key centre of migration and culture in human history, with the crew set to land their Mission Ship here at the Arts Catalyst Centre in November 2017. Visitors are invited on board to join discussions, retrieve their own memories of ancestry and migration, and to contribute to a physical and sonic data bank of stories and memory.


Dreamed Native Ancestry (DNA) inhabits an imagined scenario, drawing on Afrofuturist philosophies to explore and celebrate the stories, experiences and knowledge of diaspora peoples through a lens of technoculture and science fiction. The name of the installation playfully challenges the authoritative and seemingly concrete answers given by ancestry DNA testing to complex questions of who we are and where we come from.
During an 8-week residency, the Mission artists will bring together the diverse King’s Cross community with artists, scientists and experts to re-think urgent contemporary issues around race, migration and culture and their public perception. An interactive installation will collect and share ancestry stories and memories of migration through sound recordings, images, physical artefacts, films, music, performances and discussions. Artists and experts will be invited to contribute to archives and conversations about the cultural and technological transformations that have occurred following migration movements through history.
In the Mission Ship’s Lab, ancestry stories will be collected and recorded, visually blending elements from different points in history with futuristic sonic and visual projections. DNA (Dreamed Native Ancestry) “testing” will be conducted in the Lab using playful memory gathering techniques, such as interviews, text and drawing, audio recordings, and games. The mission team will work with a team of “memory gatherers”, recruited from the local King’s Cross community, who will help to crew the ship. As well as taking physical form within the space, memories will be analysed and remixed in live sound performances by Dubmorphology every weekend, taking place on Saturday afternoons. 
Adjoining the lab, the Mission Ship’s Trading Post will be a welcoming space, where visitors can share their migrant wisdoms and stories.  Each week, in the Trading Post, we will host conversations between artists, scientists and other experts to discuss and share current knowledge and ideas around migration, race, culture and innovation.
Dreamed Native Ancestry (DNA) is the first part of Arts Catalyst’s long-term curatorial research programme Radical Ancestry, which explores deep histories of human migration and contemporary biopolitics of race. 


Conversations with experts and Ship's Log Performances (featuring live mixed soundscapes by Dubmorphology).
Saturdays, 2 – 5:30pm
Arts Catalyst Centre
Trust Me, I’m an Artist: DNA Ancestry Testing with Larry Achiampong and David Blandy.  
Thursday 7 December, 6:30pm
Arts Catalyst Centre 
As part of a new project with Arts Catalyst, artists Larry Achiampong and David Blandy will each be undertaking multiple Ancestry DNA tests. The artists plan to investigate the scientific validity, and examine the underlying ethical issues, of Ancestry DNA testing with a specially convened ethics committee formed of medical ethicists, geneticists and artists.
Further events, exploring themes of contemporary race theory, migration, the geopolitics of knowledge, and Afrofuturism, will be announced soon. Memory gatherers will remain inside the Mission Ship during opening hours.


Mission//Misplaced Memory was founded in 2014 by writer and artist Gaylene Gould (writetalklisten) with artists and experimental sonic musicians Gary Stewart and Trevor Mathison (Dubmorphology). It is a site-specific, Afrofuturist-inspired project that uses research, performance, sound and visual installation to explore the ways personal and collective memory shape one another.
Dubmorphology is an interdisciplinary artist and research group comprising Trevor Mathison, a founding member of Black Audio Film Collective, and Gary Stewart. Through experimental approaches to sound art, live cinema and installations Dubmorphology blurs the boundaries between the sonic, visual and performative. Responding directly to specific sites and buildings, their practice is distinguished by an ongoing investigation into the unique spaces emerging in museums, art galleries and public spaces formed by the shifting intersections between audiences, authorship and participation.
Founded by writer, artist, coach and consultant Gaylene Gould, writetalklisten creates art and media projects that connect people, ideas and communities. Helmed by Gould, the company has co-produced seven Mission//Misplaced Memory projects. Other recent projects include a sonic installation at Tate, an in-conversation with Moonlight film director Barry Jenkins, and involvement in the professional development network Underground Railroad. https://www.writetalklisten.com/


Dreamed Native Ancestry (DNA) is supported by Arts Council England.