Dreamed Native Ancestry (DNA)

Mission//Misplaced Memory (Trevor Mathison, Gary Stewart, Zaynab Bunsie); photo by Tom Hall
Visitors listening to the Dreamed Native Ancestry [DNA] soundscape
Dreamed Native Ancestry [DNA]; photo by Tom Hall
Trevor Mathison of Dubmorphology performing live at Arts Catalyst as part of Dreamed Native Ancestry [DNA]
Dreamed Native Ancestry [DNA]; photo by Tom Hall
Artists Mission//Misplaced Memory in conversation with Arts Catalyst's Artistic Director Nicola Triscott
Dreamed Native Ancestry [DNA]; photo by Tom Hall
Dreamed Native Ancestry [DNA]; photo by Tom Hall
Mission//Misplaced Memory artist Zaynab Bunsie joined by honorary [DNA] Catchers, artists Barby Asante and Jacob V Joyce

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

From November 2017 - January 2018 Arts Catalyst presented 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, through an Afrofuturist science fiction narrative and deep history perspective.


//The (DNA) Catchers have 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 (DNA) Catchers are 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 to January 2018. 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 migrants and their families and diaspora peoples through a lens of technoculture and science fiction. The name of the installation playfully challenges shifting ideas around how we define identity – from biographical narrative and social context, to the authoritative, seemingly concrete, answers given by modern biometrics, such as ancestry DNA testing - to probe into complex questions of who we are and where we come from.

During an 8-week residency, the Mission artists brought 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 collected ancestry stories and memories of migration through sound recordings, images, physical artefacts, films, music, performances and discussions. 

Concept and narrative by Gaylene Gould. Installation design by Nina Shen Poblete with the artist-curator team.

Curated by Arts Catalyst’s Artistic Director, Nicola Triscott, Dreamed Native Ancestry (DNA) was 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. 

A programme of live performances and talks taking place on Saturday afternoons accompanied the exhibition. Each week, we brought together artists, scientists and experts from various fields to discuss and share current knowledge and ideas around migration, race, culture and innovation. Contributors to this multi-layered inquiry included Barby Asante, Ayesha Hameed, Jacob V Joyce, Larry Achiampong and David Blandy, Professor Bobbie Farsides and Professor Mark Thomas. Each week, these talks were followed by live sound performances by artists Dubmorphology (who make up one half of Mission/Misplaced Memory) that ‘remixed ’ migrant memories, stories and wisdom into futuristic sonic and visual projections.


Saturday 25 November, 3 – 5:30pm
Thursday 30 November, 6 – 8pm
Free, booking essential
Saturday 2 December, 3 – 5:30pm
Free, booking recommended
Thursday 7 December, 6:30 – 8:30pm
+ Dubmorphology performance
Saturday 9 December, 3 – 5:30pm
+ Dubmorphology performance
Saturday 6 January, 3 – 5:30pm
+ Dubmorphology performance
Saturday 13 January, 3 – 5:30pm
+ Dubmorphology performance
Saturday 20 January, 3 – 5:30pm
Tuesday 23 January, 4:30 - 8:30pm
A workshop examining the role artists might play in re-defining notions of citizenship, and in shaping public perception around migration.
We welcome submissions from artists, curators and researchers, scientists, community organisers and activists whose practices challenge, expand and re-invent forms of citizenship.
Who is a citizen? How can we define one and how does this definition change over time? 
Ètienne Balibar suggests we think about citizenship as an ‘institution in flux’, but what are the practices and movements that allow this social and political construct to become fluid, porous and unstable.
The notion of citizenship can indeed be understood on the one hand as a set of rules, procedures and conditions that subjects in movement have to respond to in order to access rights and benefits, in order to belong and be integrated. On the other, citizenship can be acted, invented and produced through democratic, inter-subjective and collective practices that do not entail bureaucratic processes.
Please send a short bio and a brief outline (500 words max) of the project that you would like to present during the workshop to anna.santomauro@artscatalyst.org by 22 January. 
Free, booking essential
+ Dubmorphology performance
Thursday 25 January, 6 - 9pm
Saturday 27 January, 3 - 4pm
The mission ship is ready to leave and continue its journey through geographies and times. Join us before the time travellers leave, and help them review, select and rearrange the stories and memories that have been collected in King’s Cross in the last two months.
This gathering around the data bank takes place in the form of a workshop and will mark the conclusion of Dreamed Native Ancestry [DNA]. Where will Mission//Misplaced Memory travel next? Which stories are they taking with them? Will they be able to save humanity from a future of genetic and cultural homogenisation?
The workshop will be facilitated by mission crew member Zaynab Bunsie and Arts Catalyst curator Anna Santomauro. Entry is free, no need to book.


Mission//Misplaced Memory is a writetalklisten production 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.
Helmed by producer Zaynab Bunsie, writetalklisten creates art and media projects that connect people, ideas and communities. 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. Writetalklisten was founded by Gaylene Gould, now Head of Cinemas and Events at the British Film Institute. https://www.writetalklisten.com/


Dreamed Native Ancestry (DNA) is generously supported by Arts Council England and co-funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.