MigrationPhoto Series
2021–20228 Artworks

Transformation is fundamental and arguably inevitable. People of the diaspora know it all too well, both in motion and emotion. The horizontal transgressions across natural and manmade borders create multiple cognitive shifts that can only be organized as layered experiences accessible all at once. This inability to translate causes a rippling perspective effect, which can only be interpreted through symbols of familiar and invented languages and the sounds of mythical places and creatures.

From the oasis to the desert, our Eutopia of terraced mountains, ancient architecture, jewelry, textile, frankincense and myrrh has become a dystopia of explosions, famine, disease, and suffering. Our land was looted of our most precious artifacts, which bear witness to this cruelty that we have endured. They are imprisoned in museums and collections far away, and we must pay our colonizers and looters for the visas and entrance tickets to access the sites on which they are held captive. Like us, they are nomads, not by choice but rather by consequence. We have been robbed of our archive and our narrative is fragmented. ​Our creations and gifts have been exchanged for the “​rocket’s red glare” and “bombs bursting in air,”(1)​ while our cities are backdrops of military training games and our oil builds “the golden doors” from which we are banned.

And yet, there is a cosmic juncture: As children we were told of stories and myths, we stargazed and imagined the proximity of our ancestors by the simple fact that we contemplated under the same galactic horizons. We inherited myths to expand our imagination, which would become the landscapes of our dreams and futures. It would become a sign that we exist not only here in the present, but also there in the past and future. Our collective odyssey negates placelessness and alienation, as our existence lies within our crossings, not our destination.

How can we ever imagine an existence on a horizontal axis?

Productive citizens of our homelands, we were forcefully pushed or pulled into the realms of our respective Diasporas only to be consumed by our adopted lands as slaves and laborers. Here we are considered to be aliens, only to be naturalized into further alienship. We are the dreamers, the thinkers, and the believers whose contributions are remembered, but identities disappeared. We reach our destination, only to discover that we have been moving in the wrong direction. A few of us exist trying to assimilate expectations of our new nations. To do so, we must change our names, papers, accents, and all the processes are engaging in the active erasure of thousands of years. The frequencies of our land and our languages which have vibrated through our DNA for hundreds, if not thousands of years, will soon slip away, along with our memories of the past and dreams of our futures.

MIGRATION (2021) is a rupture to the dystopic present in which migrants are caged within rigid structures designed for their ultimate failure. Rather than accepting these conditions, this body of work pushes one to reimagine their own narrative by breaking free from the bounds of the systems that have failed them. It serves as a celebration and a call to carve out unique spaces: ones in which we are not only travelers over physical planes but temporal ones, as well. As time travelers, we embody interlacing constellations of myths, histories, memories, dreams, and realities that address complex ​discourses. By expanding on the movement through time and place, MIGRATION invites other aliens to reimagine their futures rather than settling on the present as a final destination. It proposes an alternative space that addresses painful political histories while simultaneously inventing different horizons for existence.

This body of work was inspired by Sun Ra and June Tyson’s musical and theatrical collaboration, Enlightenment (1980).(2) “If Sun Ra was the king of Afro-futurism, then Arkestra vocalist June Tyson was the queen...”(3) Ra, was an American jazz composer, philosopher, and poet known for his experimental music. Tyson (aka the Saturnian Queen) was a vocalist, a poet, a dancer and costume designer; she would be the only woman invited into Sun Ra’s Arkestra between 1968 and her death in 1992. Her voice activates Sun Ra’s poetry and lyrics:

\The Sound of Thought is Enlightenment The Magic Light of Tomorrow Backwards are those of Sadness Forward and Onward are those of Gladness Enlightenment is my Tomorrow It has no planes of sorrow Hereby, my Invitation I do invite you be of my Space World -Sun Ra, Enlightenment, 1953 (4)

Tyson and Ra would be prolific in their output as futurist thinkers and creatives by subverting narratives and reorienting their audiences to expansive thinking beyond this world, fraught with trauma of war, colonization, incarceration, slavery, apartheid and genocide. Collectively and individually, they would set the foundations for other communities to carve out their own radically imagined futures on their own respective terms. Examples include Indigenous Futurism, Sino Futurism, Palestinian Futurism and Yemeni Futurism.

This series is dedicated to the travelers and thinkers, like Ra and Tyson, who spearheaded other Futurist thought by reconsidering our respective landings. By repositioning ourselves on multiple “starry dimensions,” we reassess how we think of home –– from the physical to the metaphysical, earthly to cosmic, and linear to non-linear. The double existence of the literal and the poetic are not competing; from their (con)fusion emerge acute cosmic temporalities.

In Crossing, Odyssey and Horizon, the -cludes have one eye on the viewer and the other elsewhere pointing to the multiple existences experienced at once; this is the migrant. Collectively the -cludes are suspended in a continually “warping space” (5) measured by the movement of the sun.

MIGRATION engages a global dialogue, highlighting patterns of trauma, erasure, and reconstructed identities experienced by numerous nations and diasporic communities across the globe. Collectively the photographic sculptures in the series create a distorted constellation of imagery intended to suspend the viewer the multiple horizons of possibilities.


  1. Francis Scott Key, "The Star Spangled Banner" (1814)
  2. Ra, Sun & tyson, June. “Enlightenment, Sun Ra: Live in Rome 1980”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bawnDSRuMAY&ab_channel=Pharomba
  3. Freeman, Phillip. “Sun Ra Arkestra’s June Tyson Was the Queen of Afrofuturism”. Bandcamp. November 26, 2019. https://daily.bandcamp.com/features/sun-ra-arkestras-june-tyson-was-the-queen-of-afrofuturism
  4. Ra, Sun. Enlightenment lyrics. Enterplanetary Koncepts. 1954
  5. Ra, Sun (Herman Poole Blount and Charles Plymell). Profetika: Book 1 (New York: Kicks Books, 2014)

*These textiles sourced from Senegal and produced by Dutch companies are a reminder that the danger of assimilation will only lead to ultimate erasure.