A reading by Ola Ronke creator of The Free Black Women's Library and a newly commissioned performance by Autumn Knight 

Black Women as/and the Living Archive considers the collective memory archived specifically in Black women with two back to back programs.

First up at noon on Wednesday on our Instagram Live, Ola Ronke, creator of The Free Black Women's Library, will read from award winning author N.K. Jemisin's short story "Cloud Dragon Skies" from the collection How Long Til Black Future Month. An excerpt from Jemison's story: "Long ago, our ancestors looked at the sky and saw gods. Their ancestors saw only stars. In the end, only the earth knew the truth." Ola selected this story in response to Alisha Wormsley's film Children of NAN: Mothership and how both the book and film celebrate the ancestral and futuristic nature of Black womanhood and Black creativity. 

Then on Thursday at 8:30pm on Zoom, artist Autumn Knight will perform a newly commissioned piece called The Length also in response to Wormsley's film. Knight played the role of NAN's sister in Children of NAN: Mothership. Knight describes the performance as "A moment to activate personal archives and consider their relationship to public record. An archive belonging to a demographic in a particular time and space, and recorded by the length of our histories and imaginations. A Black person will speak into a screen, and the return signal is potentially a void, a ship, a loudspeaker, dancing shoes, survival." 

Program Recordings

The Length: a performance by Autumn Knight from May 28, 2020:

Reading with The Free Black Women's Library on May 27, 2020:

About the Artists

Ola Ronke is the founder of The Free Black Women's Library, an interactive mobile library with a collection of over 2000 books written by Black women. This mobile library pops up monthly, mainly in Brooklyn but has also been presented in Harlem and Queens, as well as Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, and Philadelphia. The mission of this social art project is to center and celebrate the writing and lives of Black women and provide free access to their wide range of words and stories. 

Autumn Knight is an artist working with performance, installation, video, and text. Her performance work has been presented at Akademie der Kunste, Art League Houston, Blaffer Art Museum, The Contemporary Art Museum Houston, Crystal Bridges Museum, DiverseWorks, Krannart Art Museum, The New Museum, Optica, The Poetry Project, Project Row Houses, and Skowhegan Space. Knight has been an artist-in-residence with In-Situ, Galveston Artist Residency, YICA, Artpace, and the Studio Museum in Harlem. She is the recipient of an Artadia Award (2015) and an Art Matters Grant (2018). She has served as visiting artist at Montclair State University, Princeton University, and Bard College. Her performance work is in the permanent collection of the Studio Museum in Harlem. She attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2016 and holds a MA in Drama Therapy from New York University.

About this Project

DC-based interdisciplinary artist Tsedaye Makonnen presents "Black Women as/and the Living Archive," a multi-part project aimed at initiating a conversation about the modes in which Black women encode, preserve, and share memory through community. Central to Makonnen's inquiry is Children of NAN: Mothership, a recent film by Alisha Wormsley that functions as a metaphor for the survival and power of Black women in a dystopic future. Over the course of six weeks, Makonnen will bring together Wormsley and many of the cast and collaborators of Children of NAN: Mothership for a film screening, a reading, two performances, and a discussion.

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Reading on Wednesday, May 27 at noon

Performance on Thursday, May 28 at 8:30pm