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Escape Artist Mixtape: Parable of Coronas The Escape Artist Initiative and the African American Museum in Philadelphia teamed up to bring you the next issue of the Escape Artist Mixtape Zine Vol. 4: Parable of Coronas. This latest zine issue is inspired by Parable of the Sower, the prophetic novel by the late great Octavia E. Butler, current existential and social issues and vital signs of the times. Escape Artist Mixtape zines explore the art of survival through myth, media and music, D.I.Y and pop culture, afrofuturism and speculative fiction. Zine content is thematic and interactive including creative problem-solving activities, disaster prep protocol and practical survival tips from everyday people and fellow escape artists. This is the first zine issue to include thematic interviews and an interactive playlist with contributions from local/national escape artists and radical visionaries of change. Volume 4, Parable of Coronas features the voices, visions and sound track selections of Greg Tate (musician/cultural critic), M. Asli Dukan (filmmaker/multidisciplinary artist), Oluwafemi (visual artist/DJ) and LaTreice Branson (musician/radical wellness practitioner). We are very excited with the new direction and next level of this little zine that has always been a labor of love and act of radical hope. Stay Woke, Stay Ready. Stay Gold,

Li Sumpter

dedication This zine is dedicated to resilient spirits of survivors and victims of un/natural disaster, violence and trauma of any kind caused by any hand or systemic force of oppression and injustice. At this time we hold space in the light for those lost to COVID-19 and those who still fight for life in the undertow of the many hardships that came in its wake. This zine is made as a D.I.Y. tool in honor of those who seek to help and heal in times of crisis, loss, displacement and despair. This zine was made in honor of the ancestors and radical visionaries that paved the way for our presence with their wildest dreams of brave new worlds. We are grateful to humanity’s home Planet Earth and the land on which we stand. As Philadelphians, we acknowledge this land of the Delaware Valley as the ancestral land of the Lenni Lenape people whose presence and resilience still persists despite the violence, theft, oppression and erasure endured. This issue Vol. 4 Parable of Coronas is dedicated to Octavia E. Butler, Jean Michel Basquiat, protestors and freedom fighters on the frontlines, essential workers everywhere, our elders and the vulnerable, and to the young bright star gone too soon--Bianca Console--may her soul rest in peace.


Escape artist zine team

Li sumpter

alice wang

Art direction Design concepts Interviews Research + Text

Graphic Design Collage

Azha mcintosh Graphic Design Illustration

This issue of the Escape Artist Mixtape: Parable of Coronas was made possible with generous support from:

isa segalovich Design Zine Layout


WHAT DOES R __________

LOOK SOUND FEEL THINK ACT LIKE?


BOOM4REAL BASICS What will you do when things go BOOM4REAL?

The 4 Rs:

Resistance Readiness Resilience Rebirth


R IS FOR RESISTANCE

R IS FOR READINESS


R IS FOR RESILIENCE

R IS FOR REBIRTH

“In order to rise from its ashes a Phoenix must first burn.” -Octavia E. Butler


The Escape Artist Mixtape explores the D. I. Y approach to the art of survival through myth, media and music. Sun Tzu’s

classic The Art of War is a manifesto on strategy. It lays out five factors to consider when mapping out your M.O. (modus operandi) for engagement in the field of just about any kind of battle. These factors are:

1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

The Moral Law Heaven Earth The Commander Method and discipline

With a global pandemic, social unrest, systemic racism and violence across the nation…and don’t forget ongoing food insecurity and climate change, we all need a personal survival strategy to navigate daily threats to mind, body, and soul. This series of micro-interviews is inspired by the work of the late great trailblazer of speculative + science fiction, Octavia E. Butler. Her iconic work Parable of the Sower has become a prophetic new myth, a balm for the survivor spirit and radical hope for the future of humanity-Earthseed.


In sync with the mixtape format, Escape Artist Mixtape interview questions are organized in thematic tracks. For SIDE A, featured artists were asked the same 3 questions that follow 3 thematic tracks. For this issue, Parable of Coronas, the following tracks were explored:

Q1 The Art of Survival Q2 Octavia’s Parables + Pop Prophecies Q3 The Medium is the Message For SIDE B, each artist was asked 2 questions specific to their practice, current projects or personal experiences. Like SIDE A, each question aligns with a thematic track. The last track for the Escape Artist Mixtape: Parable of Coronas, was chosen in honor of Octavia E. Butler, the trailblazing visionary and worldbuilding mythmaker that inspired this issue.


THE ESCAPE ARTIST MIXTAPE SIDE A INTERVIEWS Q1 The Art of Survival With Sun Tzu’s art of war in mind, what 5 factors would you consider when building your personal strategy for the art of survival? What have been your chosen tools of creative resistance + resilience? FEMI 1a) 5 factors in building my personal strategy i. Community: who are those I can trust and depend on to build with and collectively take on problems. ii. Survival toolkit: What are the most essential items needed for survival? iii. Archive knowledge: Finding ways to collect and keep information about various and necessary topics in digital and analog form. iv. Larger networks beyond my community, for example mutual aid hubs, supply aid efforts and community fridges, etc. v. Staying Informed. How do we find out what’s happening where and when if there is an escalation of unrest or some other very urgent social situation. 1b) My artistic practice is largely visual and musical. This practice is my religion of self-discovery and as such is my method of creative resistance and resilience. My presence and work are a testament in defiance of the marginalization of artists of color like me, while the work itself serves to expand notions of what African art is. M. ASLI DUKAN I have had an interest in Sun Tzu’s Art of War manifesto on strategy since I was young, so I look forward to reading it. My personal strategies have been outlined by the Black women who have influenced my life, namely my mother, grandmother, artists, teachers and revolutionaries. From them, I have learned to work from preparation, have self-confidence, have perseverance, keep my composure and be creative. My chosen tool has been the martial art of Capoeira, which I have trained in for 20 years. It has helped me to evolve as a person - physically, emotionally and mentally. GREG TATE Never think of survival in any epoch strictly personal terms. The perpetuation of Black noise in all its manifestations is always the first order of business. Because the incantory and conjuring power of Black noise orchestration is forever the means by which our community will transport our bodies and psyches beyond the reach of repressive hypercapitalist temporalities. LATRIECE BRANSON “In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.” During this time, I’ve created opportunities for increased preparedness, patience, adaptation, perseverance and most importantly rest. As I submit myself to the pace of the unpredictable, I have learned to be adjustable and adaptable, and through patience I am able to find rest, even as I persevere. The tools that have been proven to enhance my creative resistance and resilience are grounded in Mother Nature. Even as the world has been plagued with sickness and fear, Mother continues to thrive. I choose to flow at her pace and not the pace of a capitalist system. Q2 Octavia’s Parables

Do you have a favorite work from Octavia E. Butler? If so, what is it and why does this story resonate with you? OEB’s known for her prophetic vision and stellar worldbuilding skills. Are there any future speculations in Octavia’s work or other fiction you think could be come reality in the next decade? FEMI My fav Octavia book is Parable Of the Sower, which was also the first of her work that I experienced. Her philosophy of God as change struck a deep chord within me. Up till then, most definitions of God seemed limited to one group of people. Finally, here was a thoughtprovoking theory that supersedes all humanity, creatures and even inanimate objects. I believe that many places in Western Civilization, especially in current day America, might spiral into a situation like is described in The Sower. Civil unrest from social


injustice coupled with climate change and economic uncertainty in a gun happy culture seems like a bomb waiting to explode. LATREICE My favorite work from Octavia E. Butler is “Mind of Mind”. While pursuing my MFA, I was given this book by one of my fondest mentors, Dr. Pheoris West. This was the only book that he gave me. As Octavia’s vision is prophetic, so was this gift - the gift of Mary - a young woman who used her supernatural powers to connect with other powerful beings, thus growing an unstoppable community. Learning of her emboldened my own power and taught me to protect it, and I imagine a world where a like-minded resistance will thrive after the elimination of the archenemy. M. ASLI DUKAN Mind of My Mind. I read it around 21, and by then I had moved from home to another city to attend college. I was a very independent and self-determined young person and knew early I wanted to become an artist. Mary, the protagonist of the book resonated with me, as I could identify with this young Black girl from a poor background, who had so much potential and the will to use it. I think Octavia’s vision was grounded in her knowledge of history and her family’s experience, so in a sense, I think her futures have already happened. GREG TATE Clay’s Ark has long been my favorite among her novels Itst parallels a volatile species jumping extraterrestrial virus being barely contained on a communal farm in the Southwest with a hyperviolent apocalyptic societal collapse occurring in nearby lLos Angeles . We are obviously already living in that Butlerean reality.

Q3 The Medium is the Message In times of protest and possibility, artists have the power to amplify community voices and communicate the message of the moment. As an artist, do you have a preferred medium to express your voice? If you could summarize an S.O.S. emergency broadcast message to your community (or the world) in a tweet, what would it be? (140 characters or less) M ASLI DUKAN I have always preferred moving image technologies like film and video because of their ability (with sound) to immerse the audience in the experience through two of our major physical senses, sight and hearing. My tweet would be a quote from Angela Davis that says, “You have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world. And you have to do it all the time”, which would probably be the final image of a video montage showing Black folks from around the world and in different contexts doing revolutionary things --- all to a dope beat. LATREICE As I preserve my health, my physical presence has become selective, so my voice is best amplified through the written word and imagery. My S.O.S to my community makes the rest alarm visible, encouraging physical endurance and spiritual preparedness. The rested life is not expressed in the sleep state alone, but in the amplitude, trough and crest of the awakened soul. There is a flow to the rested life, and as we remain alert to both spiritual and natural frequencies, we are able to allow wisdom to guide and preserve our energy. We mustn’t allow an individualistic society to drain us with competition and attentionseeking desperations. Comparison breeds envy, which inevitably hinders us from the potent impact of collaborative work. The art of collaboration will preserves us, enhances us, and give us room for rest. GREG TATE Exodus, movement of Jah people / Exodus, movement of Jah people / Open your eyes, and look within / Are you satisfied / With the life you’re living / We know where we’re going / We know where we’re from / We’re leaving Babylon / We’re going to our father land --Bob Marley FEMI “Revolution alert! Find your tribe and prepare for madness!”


THE ARKESTRA CONTINUES B SIDE INTERVIEW w/GREG TATE Q4: Roots of “Afrofuturism” When it comes to tracing the roots of the term afrofuturism, Mark Dery’s 1990 article “Black to the Future” in the anthology Flame Wars: The Discourse of Cyberculture is cited as the text of the term’s origin. In the article, Dery interviews 3 figures of black culture – Tricia Rose (author + cultural critic), Samuel R. Delany (sci-fi writer), and you! Revisiting ideas explored in that now iconic article, what elements of the vast world of afrofuturist expression have stayed the same or changed with the times in the last 30 years? What new visions or emerging artists of the next generation inspire your own creativity or hope for tomorrow? GT: When Arthur Jafa and I were at Howard University in the 70s we had our own term for Blackfolk embodying and creating speculative realities which was Black ScienceFiction. When Dery coined AF i didnt think much about it til about 2004 when I met Chuck Lightning of the Wonderland Arts Group who collaborate with Janelle Monae. He made me realize that for his generation of millennial creatives it wasnt just a descriptive for but an emergent Cultural Movement that was going to supersede the commodification of hiphop as a platform for the most expansive, multi-disciplinary forays of 21st century Black Imaginary expression. Black women are the thought leaders of contemporary Black futurological expression--I’m fans of everything Wangechi Mutu, Krista Franklin, Nnedi Okorafor, N.K. Jemisin and Janelle Monae are doing the within he Movement and the imaginary known as AF nowadaze. Q5: Methods of Mythmaking What ways are you tapping into once and future myths and memories of blackness that speak to the signs of the times and new myths-inthe-making?


GT: Currently working on two opera projects for Burnt Sugar to record and perform later next year. They are based around fictional narratives that will also be realized as graphic novels. Since I’d rather show than tell, here are excerpts from the beginning of each:

“ALL MY SPACE CHILLUN VS THE CITIES OF UNOTHERLY ANTILOVE” (see interludes for excerpts)


Warrior Clan, Oluwafemi, 2020


Community Love, Oluwafemi, 2020


patternmasters B SIDE INTERVIEW w/oluwafemi Q4: There’s Joy in Repetition When were you first drawn to patterns? What do you remember about that experience? What kinds of patterns do you tend to gravitate towards or create most?

O: I grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, where most of the traditional clothing is made from patterned cloth. For big events like weddings and funerals, members of the same family would often wear outfits made from the same patterned cloth. Other guests would commonly wear outfits in the same color as the family’s patterned cloth. Later on in my life, my mother owned a tailor shop, and we would go to the fabric market at least once a week. I think sometimes how I must have completed at least 10,000 hours of observing graphic patterns on cloth. I don’t know that I’m drawn to any type of patterns in particular. I am attracted to repetition and the trillions of ways it manifests. Bathroom tiles, behavioral habits, cars in a parking lot, a plate of french fries, any attempt at awesome alliteration; the list of things that get repeated is endless. Repetition is ubiquitous, inevitably present in some form in all objects, behaviors and processes.

Q5: When Patterns Connect Patterns are a form of language and communication. As a DJ and a visual artist, where do patterns show up in your different forms of creative expression? Are you trying to communicate anything to your audience through your own lexicon of shapes, lines and symbols? O: Continuing the thought from my previous answer, the most important patterns I can consider first are those in my artistic behaviors. Any skill I possess or craft that I have learned has come with hours and hours of practice, i.e. repetitive action. Considering music first, my African heritage makes me very fond of drums. A drum is usually played in some type of regular pattern, with interesting variations and irregularities. In my visual art, it is my intention to prove to myself and to my audience that we cannot communicate without some form of repetition. From the motifs to the methods of drawing motifs I use, all actions involve repeated lines, colors and objects. My aim is to remind people of how they are always surrounded by patterns as they move through this universe.


(Left side) Honeycombed, Oluwafemi 2019 (Right side) Community Love, Oluwafemi, 2020


Theory Redux: APOCALYPSE COMPLEX


BLK GRL GO BAG Corona Ready


BLK GRL GO BAG Iconic Survivors


(CREATIVE) RESISTANCE IS NOT FUTILE B SIDE INTERVIEW w/M ASLI DUKAN Q4: OEB The Woman, Her Myths, The Legend You interviewed the

late great Octavia E. Butler for your sci-fi documentary “Invisible Universe” . What about that interview and Octavia stands out most in your memory? In hindsight, if you could have asked her one more question – what would it have been?

MAD: When I interviewed Octavia, there wasn’t much info about her online like now, so much of what we talked about was her life story, her reactions, her feelings… I had a more informal convo with her earlier, during our cab ride to the interview location. We talked about other genres we read and I brought up Anne Rice’s work. Octavia then commenced to giving me her measured critique of every Anne Rice book written up til 2004. In hindsight, I would ask her more about her grandmother, which I realized later had an enormous influence on her life and work. Q5: Packing for Protests In OEB’s Parable of the Sower, the protagonist Lauren Olamina speaks to the necessity of preparing a go bag or survival pack in case of an emergency. Anyone who scrolls through your IG will see you have been documenting the recent BLM uprising from the frontlines of Philly streets, which also took place in the middle of a global pandemic. Can you share some of the items you recommend including in your go bag when packing for protest engagement? MAD: I have participated in many protests but have rarely faced off with such

highly militarized police and national guard forces like during this summer of 2020, where I experienced stun grenades, tear gas and was grazed by a rubber bullet. This is a very significant moment of class war and racial terrorism and I am committed to struggle against it. Now, I am more meticulous about my safety and security. I wear:

• • • •

MASKS GOGGLES GLOVES APPROPRIATE CLOTHING AND FOOTWEAR

(Left background) Big Pride, Oluwafemi, 2020

• BRING TEAR GAS

NEUTRALIZERS

• KNOW THE PROTEST-

TYPe and PROTEST AREA • HAVE PLANS TO STAY CONNECTED WITH MY PROTEST CREW.


This volume of the Escape Artist Mixtape: Parabl Binders Tarot: letters A and C.


le of Coronas was brought to you by the Time-


Artist: Courtney Durant

These worldbuilding cards are inspired by the speculative world of Octavia E. Butler’s Parabl

Moore College of Art and Design spring semesters 2018-2020. Students created a triptych d world. These are a select few from 4 former students.


Artist: Azha McIntosh

le of the Sower. They were the culminating project in Li Sumpter’s Afrofuturism course at

deck of 3 cards that reflected the archetypes and characters, symbols and themes of this


FAILURE TO ADAPT CAN LEAVE ONE iN THE DUST

SHadow

PARABLE OF THE SOWER

THE SURVIVALIST:

EX{EROEMCE OF LIVING ON THE STREET

moss downtrodden background

SHadow

PARABLE OF THE SOWER

Zahra

light

Artist: Bianca Console

godseed:

guide of growth, Progress, and civilization

Change

light


Artist: Natalie Nelson


WAGING WELLNESS IN the AGE OF CORONA B SIDE INTERVIEW w/LATREICE BRANSON Q4: The Rigor of Radical Resilience When you speak on your practice of radical wellness you often illuminate the intense demand of one’s body, mind and spirit required to push through physical/emotional challenges we might face daily. Can you share a lesson learned from facing and ultimately embracing this rigor of radical resilience? LB: Embracing the radical wellness approach required me to transition into a new ecology and adjust my pedagogy to fit therein. There was no immediate gratification in this method, but the long-term benefits have been physically, psychologically and spiritually sustaining. By first eliminating medications prescribed for bipolar disorder, I gained the clarity to understand and react to the effects of the disorder. By choosing to initiate tough conversations with individuals in my life who’d caused me confusion and pain, rather than talking to a therapist about them, I found peace and resolution. By developing my own exercise system, I developed strength. Q5: Complex Issues This zine issue includes an infographic on the Apocalypse Complex. Complexes are core patterns of images and symbols, wishes and emotions that the mind organizes into active themes. Complexes can overtake the mind, influence how we see the world and ultimately how we behave. You recently addressed the nature of the Exhaustion Complex in your project work. Can you share more about this complex and a few tips for keeping it in check? Any advice for maintaining a healthy reserve of personal energy to get through isolation, social unrest or the demands of working from home during this health + economic crisis?


LB: The Exhaustion Complex� is a pattern of behavior that takes pride in high-functioning fatigue, overworking and overextending, in order to get the job done. For many people of color, this complex was instilled in us as a means of survival and achievement as early as childhood, and it has progressively and deceptively robbed us of the rest necessary to sustain success and wellness simultaneously. It often leads to burn-out, and in troubling times, we are only as effective as our rest. We must create opportunities for restorative activity with the same fervor that we execute our work. We’ve deserve it. Our survival requires it.


FINAL TRANSMISSION Have you ever thought of what your last words would be to loved ones, to the world? Who would you call if you had the time? Would you use limited words to express love and gratitude? Or maybe share your greatest joy OR your deepest regret? Would you send a final message to someone special or make a last request? Or maybe you might leave behind a beautiful memory to echo your spirit into peaceful eternity every time it’s remembered…

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-Beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.” -Roy Batty, Blade Runner


FIRST CONTACT What if you were faced with your own close encounter of the fifth kind? — direct contact with an alien species or otherworldly being. How would you attempt to communicate? What would be the first words or feelings you would express? What message might you try to convey about humanity and our planet or even your own identity? Would it be a warning, welcome or S.O.S? What tools or forms of language would you try first—sounds or symbols, art or dance, digital code or human emotion?

“You’re an interesting species, an interesting mix. You’re capable of such beautiful dreams and such horrible nightmares. You feel so lost, so cut off, so alone, only you’re not. See, in all our searching, the only thing we’ve found that makes the emptiness bearable is each other.”- Otherworldly entity from “Contact”, 1997


In Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler writes that the “Destiny of Earthseed (humanity) is to take root among the stars.” Do you believe humans will one day make

an exodus off-world and could successfully and sustainably colonize other planets? Do you have a vision of what that might look like? If you were offered an emergency exit off this planet by an alien race to survive Earth’s imminent destruction, would you take it? Why or why not? M. ASLI DUKAN When I was 12 years old, I created stories about human travel to other planets, so in a sense, yes, early on I wanted to believe in the possibility. Now that I am older, I shudder at what this would look like, as I have done research on how this line of speculative thinking is so connected to the history of colonialism, imperialism and white supremacist thought. I don’t see myself taking the offer, as I am committed to a vision, where this world is liberated from capitalism, racism, sexism and all other forms of oppression.


LATREICE BRANSON The “Earthseed” has been looking to the stars for centuries, and our ability to live amongst them is on the horizon; however, the selection process is what I find most concerning. I can’t help but imagine colonies that will be formed based on class and accessibility, not too different than the systems here on Earth. If humans are on the planning committee, the poor will likely inhabit the stars differently than the rich. Will their experience be beautiful and enriching, or will the developers of the new world bring them new slaves? If an alien race were to invite me to relocate amongst the stars, I would cautiously consider.

OLUWAFEMI Yes. Given the current pace of technological development, humanity could absolutely make an exodus off-world. From there, it will probably be much easier to sustainably colonize uninhabited planets. It is quite impossible to imagine what the outcome might be if we stumble across some aliens. What would be inevitable is that intelligent lifeforms outside earth would develop in ways that are completely different to how humanity has grown on earth. For that reason, I will NOT be accepting any invites from aliens to escape earth. Unless I can be turned into one of them of course ;)

GREG TATE I think Gene Roddenberry got it right when he set Star Trek 500 years from now because there are so many scientific breakthroughs needed before human beings can literally take root among the stars --artificial gravity, faster than light travel, super advanced artificial intelligences. But Sun Ra has already taught us how to imagineer and embody life among the stars within us --as Joni Mitchell sang ‘’We are stardust’’. Feel like he and George Clinton have already taken Blackfolk there but far as actual aliens. They’d have to Black and funky as hell to get me on their ship. Harlem is my rock and when it goes, I’ll follow.


Bonus Track pages; waiting on last version


made with mad love and mad typos!

Back cover artist credit: Li Sumpter in collaboration with Josh Archer for Y.I.M.F.Y.


Profile for mythmedia21

Escape Artist Mixtape Vol. 4: Parable of Coronas  

Escape Artist Mixtape Vol. 4: Parable of Coronas  

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