In conjunction with Carl Craig’s Party/After-Party (2020) at Dia Beacon, Dia presents a cumulative platform of public programs exploring the legacy of techno through summer 2021. The Carl Craig Sessions join an ongoing and multivocal dialogue about techno’s emergence in Detroit’s underground as well as its reverberations worldwide.
Originating in post-Fordist Detroit in the early 1980s, techno arose not only as an electronic music form, but also as an aesthetic and political movement committed to experimentation, counter-histories, and imagined futures. As artist and sound theorist Kodwo Eshun stated in 1995: “Detroit techno took music beyond the dance, into the chaos of electronics; inventing a history and a future, a direction and an ideal as successful as that other 1980s neologism, cyberspace.”
Inviting artists, DJs, musicians, writers, and thinkers, the Carl Craig Sessions consider the sonic influence of techno. Devoting primary attention to archives of Black experience, the sessions also consider how techno challenges the racial capitalist relationship between human and machine to articulate visions of a transformative society.
Carl Craig Sessions: Screening Series in Collaboration with Electronic Arts Intermix
This film series constellates some of the forms, mythologies, and politics present in the greater movement of techno.
August 6–9, 2020
The third and final screening in the Carl Craig Sessions film program features cinematic excavations of techno and the sonic Black Atlantic—Paul Gilroy’s notion of a circulatory, transnational diasporic culture—by Tony Cokes and Jenn Nkiru. Working in distinct styles that reveal the expansiveness of the techno aesthetic, Nkiru and Cokes trace transatlantic currents of sound and gesture, technologies which are equally mediums for the inscription of history as they are channels for envisioning alternative futures. The sample culture of techno finds cinematic analogues in the montage and the flicker, exposing a cross-pollination of the cinematic and the sonic within the broader ecosystem from which the techno movement emerged.
Mikrohaus, or the black atlantic?, 2001
Inspired by music critic Philip Sherburne’s writings on minimal techno and house music, Tony Cokes’s Mikrohaus, or the black atlantic? weaves together texts from Paul Gilroy’s 1993 book The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness with quotations by Juan Atkins, James Baldwin, Édouard Glissant, Derrick May, Richard Wright, and a number of German DJs and producers for a polyphonic commentary on the power relations and racial politics at play in the global dissemination of techno.
REBIRTH IS NECESSARY, 2017
BLACK TO TECHNO, 2019
In Rebirth is Necessary, Jenn Nkiru blurs past, present, and future in a hypnotic meditation on the sonic and visual dimensions of diasporic Blackness. An exploration of techno’s origins in Detroit, her film Black to Techno offers not so much an origin story as what Nkiru describes as a “cosmic archaeology,” composed of intersecting and divergent narratives and conceptual frameworks.
Tony Cokes was born in 1956 in Richmond, Virginia. Since the mid-1980s, Cokes has produced videotapes and installations that question how subjectivities informed by race, gender, and class are produced through the representational regimes of the media and popular culture. Recent solo exhibitions and screenings of his work have taken place at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts (2020); Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art, London (2019); and the Shed, New York City (2019), among others. Cokes lives in Providence, Rhode Island, where he is a professor in the department of modern culture and media at Brown University.
Jenn Nkiru was born in Peckham, London. An artist and director, Nkiru’s work often explores communities formed around music and dance subcultures such as New York City’s ballroom culture, Detroit techno, and the lineages of jazz, hip-hop, and Afrofuturism. She received her MFA in film directing from Howard University in Washington, DC. In 2019, Nkiru’s work was presented as part of the 2019 Whitney Biennial. Nkiru’s first film, En Vogue (2014), documented New York’s underground vogueing community. Her second film, Rebirth is Necessary (2017), was awarded Best Documentary at the London Independent Film Festival. Nkiru has directed music videos for Kamasi Washington and Neneh Cherry and was second unit director for Beyoncé and Jay-Z's Apeshit (2018). She lives in Peckham, London.