Chicago‐based artist Candace Hunter’s largest solo exhibition to date, The Alien‐Nations and Sovereign States of Octavia E Butler, explores ideas from Parable of the Sower and Xenogenesis Trilogy (Lilith’s Brood) by speculative fiction author Octavia E Butler (1947‐2006). Hunter will present a series of collage‐based works, installations, video, and sound works that illustrate the meticulously sculpted worlds Butler imagined in her novels, examining their significance for Black bodies and future societies.
Work with plants, remnants of a live science experiment, a reading nook, and imagined portals to other worlds make up what Hunter describes as an “alien lush space.” The exhibition examines the concepts of nationhood, asking questions about who is other, and in what situations do we see people as other to ourselves? How do we become universal? Comparing the Parable of the Sower to the Trump era and using Xenogenesis Trilogy (Lilith’s Brood) to explore what “alien” worlds might exist beyond America and its race relations today, Hunter’s exhibition creates a speculative space where multiple generations come together to envision a better future.
In response to the Black Lives Matter movement, when the phrase “I can’t breathe” became prevalent in the fight for justice for Black lives, Hunter believes that “the future is breath,” a sign of life and growth. The phrase will radiate in neon in the exhibition, reminding visitors of Afro‐Futurism’s dependence on the preservation and elevation of Black bodies and voices in the present.
Rooted in her identification as a Black woman and spanning over two decades, Hunter’s work has explored the crises she predicts will impact twenty‐first century society at large, from capitalism and climate change to food justice, humanism, and the politics of water. In Butler’s novels, the Black female heroes navigate an earth devastated by climate catastrophe and war to lead survivors to a new world ‐ either on this planet or the next planet.