This Artist Collective In Philadelphia Is Documenting Gentrification In The Community

In Philadelphia, a community that is rapidly gentrifying, one artist collective is taking steps to empower its residents by re-imagining black futures within the city landscape.

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The Black Quantum Physics Futurism Collective is defined as “an artistic and literary collaboration between Camae Dennis and Rasheedah Phillips which explores the intersections of imagination, futurism, literature, art, DIY-aesthetics, and activism in marginalized communities.” Dennis and Philips aim to collect stories from the Sharswood/Blumberg neighborhood, an area known for its community organizations, businesses, and young folks:

“Essentially, Phillips, along with her fellow artists in the Black Quantum Futurism Collective, plus six Community Futures Lab interns, will document the redevelopment of the neighborhood to empower its residents. They’ll do this by facilitating workshops where residents from the area are invited to share their memories, hopes and dreams for their rapidly changing community, through various visual, vocal and written mediums. They’ll also be armed with recording devices in case residents are unable to make their way to the space. These written and verbal accounts will be on display at the Community Futures Lab. “

Philadelphia’s re-development is drastically changing the landscape of the city: new real estate projects that aim to attract a “new clientele” to The Gallery at Market East, where young black residents from different areas of the city could have safe places to socialize and gather with friends. With the new development, the mood at The Gallery has dramatically changed, with a decline in black shoppers. Along with The Gallery, residents of Philadelphia who are effected by gentrification are uprooted from their communities and experience lack of stability in housing, resulting in a “loss of inter-generational wealth.”

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The Collective contends that Afrofuturism, a term coined in the mid-90s by Mark Derry, will serve as a liberation practice for black communities world-wide:

“The Afrofuturist landscape lends itself well to exploring notions of institutional liberation, unearthing our true histories, mapping our futures, understanding our present conditions in the flow of time and through a speculative lens,” Phillips says. “Because it provides a perpetual bridge between the past, present and future, Afrofuturism, and the black speculative imagination, can be used as liberation technologies to build future worlds.”

The final project will be on display in the Community Futures Lab, which is described as “quantum time capsule” and will feature art and soundscapes. It will host its opening reception on June 18.