//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.