In her book Black Imagination, Natasha Marin challenges black people to discover their power.
The book, a collection of short stories, testimonies and poetry, provides a platform for blacks around the world to introspect and find out who they are.
Dark imagination is in its most basic form, a radical experimentation in centering darkness, which actually means just looking to ourselves for joy, healing, and imagination. It shouldn’t have to be drastic, but somehow, in an American context, it’s drastic not to center whiteness by default, Marin told Loop in an interview with Zoom.
Marin, who was born in Trinidad and now based in Seattle, organized the stories through an appeal that targeted a diverse group of voices within the black community.
I looked for people who are often neglected within the black diasporic community, that is to say young people, people of the LGBTQIA + community, people without shelter, people in prison, these are the people with who i went out and asked if you are happy to contribute but anyone black could contribute for this project, the barrier to entry is just that, are you black are you black everyday and not just on special occasions because that’s a whole different thing, she laughs.
Contributors were asked to answer two questions and a call to action: What is your origin story? How do you heal yourself? And imagine a world where you are loved, safe and valued.
Marin, 42, said the responses she received differed greatly depending on where the respondents came from. The origin story, for example, provided answers different from those coming from an American context which engaged their imaginations as opposed to those from mainland Africa which gave a literal lineage.
As a conceptual artist, I consider myself a creative scientist, so the data that came out of this social science experiment was pretty clear that displacement played an important role in how we understand our origin, he said. she stated, explaining that she uses people like her. way to get your messages across.
The mother-of-two said the inspiration for the project came in 2017 when she and a friend went to do an interview on national public radio about motherhood. While waiting in the green room, they listened to another on-air discussion about police brutality. The whole discussion took place among the white men.
We were communicating with our eyes and having a non-verbal conversation, and then I said out of the blue, what would it be like to imagine revenge? We fell silent as we imagined and pulled back so quickly and decided to do the exact opposite and go dark and away from whiteness. We brought in other black women and we presented the first exhibition in absolute black space with live recorded voices where people had this experience of being imbued with black joy, imagination and healing, a she declared.
From there she made two other solo exhibitions.
Black Imagination, the book, is the fourth iteration in the series of exhibitions.
The book was recently brought to life by Grammy and Tony Award-winning actor / producer Lena Waithe (Queen and Slim) and Daveed Diggs (Hamilton, Black-ish), who voiced the book’s version. audio.
The Audiobook Launch marks the official launch of the company’s new program, Scribd Audio, which brings independently published books to life through spoken word creation.
Against his tears, Marin said it was moving to hear the two actors validate his work.
What I heard them say is that we respect what you do and appreciate you and your work and that is why we would lend our voice to the project. We also have the agency to choose the projects we are working on and we appreciate the work of centering and amplifying vulnerable black voices, she recalled.
You could live and die your whole life with no one validating you, I still can’t believe it, I still pinch myself.
While discussing the collaboration, Diggs explained in a press release that the struggles and thoughts recounted throughout Black Imagination are important and relatable experiences.
These powerful stories bring to life the voices of our family, friends and ancestors who have been silenced for too long. I don’t see this project as just reading, but rather as a way to help listeners feel the joy, pain, and self-reflection of each individual who has had the courage to tell their story. ”
“After connecting with Natasha and hearing her creative take on Black Imagination, I knew this was a project I needed to be involved in,” Waithe said.
“To rewrite history is our right, but I believe it is important to remind future generations of the struggles that the black community has gone through and continues to go through. I am delighted to have the opportunity to honor the voices of those who are in the book embodying and sharing their powerful journey with listeners. ”
Marin was born and lived on rue Borde in Port-d’Espagne. She left Trinidad at the age of three with her sister when her mother, Patricia, immigrated to Canada to escape domestic violence.
She visits often and says that one thing she learned from the Caribbean is that darkness is like everything.
Every possible phenotype could be black and is black without any possible disruption or confusion. I don’t think I would have understood this if I had been born in another context, she said.
Marin said she was accepting submissions for a second book and invited people in the Caribbean to contribute. The prompts for this book are different and among the questions are: When do you feel most rooted or indigenous? Talk about your relationship to Africa, real or imagined, and what does it look like when you come out on top?
She said even if you can’t write you can submit your contributions via an audio memo.
Marin currently has it fifth Black Imagination exhibition, Sites of Power, available online.
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