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)

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, 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 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. 

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) 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. 

We're currently seeking volunteer (DNA) Catchers to support us with the project. Find out more about how to get involved here.

A programme of live performances and talks taking place on Saturday afternoons will accompany the exhibition. Each week, we will bring together artists, scientists and experts from various fields to discuss and share current knowledge and ideas around migration, race, culture and innovation. Confirmed contributors to this multi-layered inquiry include Barby Asante, Ayesha Hameed, Jacob V Joyce, Larry Achiampong and David Blandy, Professor Bobbie Farsides and Professor Mark Thomas. Each week, these talks will be followed by live sound performances by artists Dubmorphology, who make up one half of Mission/Misplaced Memory. Taking migrant memories, stories and wisdom collected by a team of (DNA) Catchers as their source material, performances will see them analysed and 'remixed' into futuristic sonic and visual projections. The full programme of events will be announced soon.


Conversations, workshops and live performances accompany the exhibition. Each week, artists, scientists and experts from various fields will discuss and share knowledge and ideas around migration, race, culture, biopolitics and innovation. Live sound performances by Dubmorphology will ‘remix’ migrant memories, stories and wisdom into futuristic sonic and visual projections.
Saturday 25 November, 3 – 5:30pm
Free, booking recommended
Thursday 30 November, 6 – 8pm
Free, booking essential
Saturday 2 December, 3 – 5:30pm
Free, booking recommended
Thursday 7 December, 6:30 – 8:30pm
Tickets £5, booking essential
+ Dubmorphology performance
Saturday 9 December, 3 – 5:30pm
Free, booking recommended
+ Dubmorphology performance
Saturday 6 January, 3 – 5:30pm
Free, booking available soon
Conversation with Professor Mark Thomas and Gaylene Gould on deep histories of migration and cultural progress
+ Dubmorphology performance
Saturday 13 January, 3 – 5:30pm
Free, booking available soon
Conversation with Ayesha Hameed on biometrics and the biopolitics of identity
+ Dubmorphology performance
Saturday 20 January, 3 – 5:30pm
Free, booking available soon
Music and Migration event 
+ Dubmorphology performance
Saturday 27 January 2018, 3 – 5:30pm
Free, drop-in


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 the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.
Exhibition closed 21 December 2017 - 4 January 2018.