Relic Traveller: Phase 2
© Photos by Natalia Queirolo, Anne Duffau, Joel Chan, Stephen White & Tobias Wooton
Relic Traveller: Phase 2, is the continuation of a multi-disciplinary project by Larry Achiampong, which manifests in performance, audio, moving image and prose. Centred within themes related to Afrofuturism, Relic Traveller takes place across various landscapes and locations; the project builds upon a postcolonial perspective informed by technology, agency and the body, and narratives of migration.
This speculative project considers the social and political climate of currenttimes; the rise of nationalism within the global West and tensions surrounding moments such as the United Kingdom’s leave ‘Brexit’ vote in 2016. Meanwhile, the African Union’s passport programme (also established in 2016) points toward the potential opening of boarders across a unified African continent in the future. With these instances, the Relic Traveller series imagines a future in which the global West devolves to point of decline, whilst the African Union ascends into prosperity, harmony, independence and, responsibility in shaping the future of the planet.
At this unspecified point in time amongst an ambitious set of new initiatives, the African Union create the ‘Relic Travellers’ Alliance’, a programme that equips Relic Travellers with space-travelling-technology for the sole purpose of venturing outside of the African Union to retrieve vocal information left by those whom had been historically oppressed as a result of political systems such as colonisation, capitalism and globalisation. These uncovered testimonies are collected and used as a basis for the African Union to responsibly govern the future informed by a bottom-up perspective.
Poetically emanating displacement in the Global West, Relic 2 begins at a long-aged, dilapidated communication site in Lincolnshire (UK). RAF Stenigot was a Second World War radar station (like the acoustic mirrors seen in Relic 1, both were part of the UK government’s ‘Chain Home’ programme), later fortified by NATO’s ACE high communication programme which involved adding four tropospheric scatter dishes.
An audio-visual performance, Pixel Perpetual acts as a bridge between Phase 1 and Phase 2 of Relic Traveller. Responding to themes of otherness, violence and revolution, the work creates a landscape fused with references to science fiction, video games, and past-future narratives.
Relic 2 continues to follow the traveller from Relic 1, bridging locations of technological, historical, social and political significance including RAF Stenigot (Lincolnshire, UK), Greenwich Foot Tunnel (London, UK), Congo Square and Bayou Sauvage, 9th Ward (New Orleans, USA). Supported by a harmonious, melancholic, synth-based score we hear once more from the Griot-like ‘Mother’ of the Relic Travellers’ Alliance (Relic 0), this time with a soliloquy relating the anthropocene with structures of imperialism.
Detailing the struggles of a migrant worker as they try to make a life in a hostile, alien environment, Relic 3 encompasses aural tales of sexual manipulation, violence and exploitation whilst visually marrying impactful vistas from the Abandoned Lido (Margate, UK), Greenwich Foot Tunnel (London, UK) and Wanstead Flats (London, UK). The film features a haunting, solemn score written by Achiampong with Cello played by Jonathan Holland.
For Phase 2 Achiampong has configured new Pan African Flags following on from Phase 1's PAN AFRICAN FLAG FOR THE RELIC TRAVELLERS' ALLIANCE (ASCENSION). These three flags are symbolic of community, motion (technology and the speed of darkness), squadron. The flags culminate Afrofuturistic icons moving towards unity and equilibrium. The work does not frame Pan African Futurism as a utopian vision of the African continent, but one that considers aspects of responsibility in relation to the hidden tremors of history.