Among the artists and music critics within the black sci-fi community interviewed for the film The Last Angel of History, Director John Akomfrah interweaves the narrative of the Data Thief who is on a quest to find the mythical crossroads. As a juncture marked by transience and inhabited by time travelers, the crossroads is where secret black technology is forged. The famous legend says that Robert Johnson learned the blues by selling his soul to the devil. The blues was a secret due to its transformative power to replicate and recode itself into several musical genres thereafter. The Data Thief, a cyborg-like fictional character, searches 200 years after Paul Johnson’s discovery to find the mythical crossroads to obtain the keys to his future. His journey commences with one spoken clue: “Mothership Connection.” Drawing from the narrative of the Data Thief and the allusion to Parliament’s 1975 album that situates blackness in outer space through funk music, this essay examines the ways in which inhabitants of the crossroads, the Data Thief and George Clinton in particular, produce a new expressive order against the grain of a nebulous history imposed upon them by dominant white cultural representations. Through a reorganizing of black aesthetics, critical theory and liberation politics, this article highlights how black artists manipulate and imaginatively transcend linear time and make history beyond the Middle Passage epistemology. The movements of these artists collide with theories of spacetime borrowed from science fiction in service of theorizing black performance.
Keywords: black, performing arts, funk music, film, blackness, time, space, Mothership Connection, Middle Passage
How to Cite:
Howard, D. A., (2022) “An Angel, a Thief, and a Mothership: Imaginative Considerations of Black Being”, the Black Theatre Review 1(1), 55-69. doi: https://doi.org/10.2458/tbtr.4771