The choreographic concert We are going to Mars follows the two video works of the same name by the company Christoph Winkler, which celebrated their online premiere in November 2021: In a mixture of video, dance and music, the participating artists examined the history of the first African space programme in Zambia and its reception over the past 50 years. In addition, they build a bridge to the work of the Afro-American musician Sun Ra, who developed his credo “Space is the place” at the same time.
The Christoph Winkler Company is once again performing the complete soundtrack created especially for the project, in which the band Mourning [A] BLKstar takes up some aspects of the story. A sonic associative space is created in which the dancers now introduce their own movements. From these dance miniatures and in connection with the songs of the band, a free collage develops about the longing of the „Afronauts“ for Mars and what it can stand for.
In 1960, Edward Mukuka Nkoloso founded the Zambia National Academy of Science, Space Research and Philosophy. The goal: an African space program of its own to join the “Space Race” between the United States and the Soviet Union. On a remote farm, the “Afronauts” trained on homemade equipment. Together they created a rocket, the D-Kalu 1, and planned to launch it into space on October 24, 1964. The rocket was to be piloted by 17-year-old Matha Mwambwa, the only woman on the team. The attempt to launch an African space program was taken anything but seriously by the international press – until a video of the training surfaced ten years ago and triggered a change in perspective. To this day, it is not certain whether the project was a serious scientific endeavor, a joke at the expense of the colonial powers, or even a cover for a training camp for independence fighters. In any case, the term “Afronauts” stands today for a new self-confidence of black people, visible in the videos from the 60s.
LOIS ALEXANDER was born in California and is of African American, Filipino and Chinese descent. She began dancing at the age of 10. SYMARA SARAI JOHNSON was born in Portland (Oregon) and studied Caribbean folk dance and traditional Indian dance in Trinidad and Tobago. BRIA BACON, born in Rahway, New Jersey, is a versatile and accomplished dancer who is currently exploring the disciplines of performance, poetry and styling. OLUWAFEMI ADEBAJO is a native of Lagos, Nigeria. He is a multidisciplinary artist with more than 14 years of experience. RIDWAN RASHEED, also from Lagos, Nigeria, is a dance artist, artistic director, curator and choreographer. MOURNING [A] BLKSTAR from Cleveland is a collective of musicians*, writers* and multimedia artists*.