Kordae Henry imagines an alternative African history and future

The artist combines science fiction, Afrofuturism and cinema to speculate on the myths of the future.

Kordae Henry’s 2019 Design Indaba Conference talk taught us two things about the Los Angeles-based filmmaker:

First, that he’s hugely inspired by science fiction, a theme that can be seen throughout his cinematography.

Second, that he knows the importance of representation as he continues to highlight black bodies throughout his work.

kordae henry design indaba

“I believe that vision is the only idea until we can begin to build futures that involve the mythic, black and the underrepresented in its horizons,” says Henry.

“I use this as a way to talk about bigger ideas of alienation, the spirits, automation, artificial intelligence, to really allow us to see black bodies in future spaces,” he adds.

These two things form the basis of his debut short film, Earth Mother, Sky Father: 2030.

The film looks at the unethical exploitation of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s mineral resources through the creation of a utopian future where colonialism, slavery and corruption do not exist.

In this, the Congolese people of Henry’s fictitious world have chosen to protect their wealth from deep within the ground. The story unfolds further through his use of visuals, sound and dance.

“The film looks at a deeper level of mythology through objects, through dance, through music. It challenges the viewer to look beyond the post-apocalyptic in the white male gaze but instead begins to explore new notions of rituals through the musicality that black bodies possess all over the world,” says Henry.

This film is a segue into the future work Henry wants to do. Combining science fiction, afro-futurism and the future of black cinema, he hopes to explore and fill historical gaps through film.

“I’ve been exploring cinema as a form of research to speculate on what I like to call myths of the near future,” he explains.

Adding: “I’m really interested in the invisible stories of subcultures, mythology and folklore that has shaped our world for so long and I want to figure out how to actually bring and bridge this to film.”

Watch the full talk:

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