the vera list center presents black quantum futurism: time zone protocols and prime meridian unconference

Exhibition is open daily April 4-18, and hosts the Prime Meridian Unconference from April 15-17

New York, April 4, 2022 - Developed out of 2020–2022 VLC Fellow Rasheedah Phillips’s ongoing practice as a member of Black Quantum Futurism, the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School presents Time Zone Protocols (April 4–18, 2022), the Prime Meridian Unconference (April 15–17, 2022), and the digital project The exhibition and the accompanying Unconference, both held at the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Gallery at Parsons School of Design, explore the implications of the 1884 International Meridian Conference (IMC), a convening that established a prime meridian, enforcing a universal time standard. 

Tracing the “Protocols of the Proceedings,” the written and unwritten political agendas and social agreements that underlie Westernized time constructs, Phillips examines the protocols by which dominant time structures regulate, catalyze, and perpetuate systems of oppression that deny marginalized people access to and agency over the temporal domains of the past and present, with a focus on Black communities in the US. Using Black Quantum Futurism and Colored People’s Time as ontological frameworks, the exhibition, Unconference, and accompanying digital space propose alternative theories of temporal-spatial consciousness.

Time Zone Protocols debuts a nonlinear map pinpointing sociohistorical events in the development of Western time consciousness. Focusing on the 1884 International Meridian Conference as a critical point on the Western timeline, the map illustrates the backward and forward-reaching impacts of time standardization and colonized time. Designed to host the Prime Meridian Unconference, the exhibition space displays books, posters, videos, and research materials from the larger Time Zone Protocols project, while guiding visitors through an examination of the implicit and explicit rules underlying Westernized time constructs, such as time zones and Daylight Saving Time. 

The three-day, hybrid Prime Meridian Unconference brings together artists, architects, musicians, physicists, geographers, technologists, and scholars of African American Studies. Through interactive talks, workshops, panels, performances, and plenary sessions, the participants consider new ways of understanding our relationship to space-time, utilizing specific Black social, geographical, and cultural frameworks that seek to unmap Black temporalities from the Greenwich Mean timeline. Together they explore and unpack the standards and protocols of time that have left and continue to leave Black people locked out of the past and future—stuck in a narrow temporal present. Speakers and presenters include Camae Ayewa (Moor Mother), Asia Dorsey, Walter Greason, Kendra Krueger, Ingrid LaFleur, V. Mitch McEwen, Katherine McKittrick, Mendi + Keith Obadike, Danielle M. Purifoy, Ingrid Raphaël, Thomas Stanley, Joy Tabernacle-KMT, Ujijji Davis Williams, and Celeste Winston. Please visit the VLC website or the Time Zone Protocols website for the full Unconference listing and session descriptions.

Preceding the exhibition and Unconference is the launch of The site documents the ongoing Time Zone Protocols research project and sets the stage for the exhibition and Prime Meridian Unconference. It offers an interactive space for rewriting the protocols of time, rezoning the time zones, and unmapping the imperialist global time colonization project with a Black [Quantum] futurist lens. It also presents an ongoing archive of over three hundred research materials on cultures of time, temporality, time zones, clocks, and more. Illustrating ways of marking and tracking alternative temporalities, the site bridges the Vera List Center’s iteration of Time Zone Protocols with Black Quantum Futurism’s forthcoming Creative Capital project Time Zone Protocols: Confederate States. The in-person audience for the Unconference is limited, but the program will be livestreamed on the Time Zone Protocols website and The exhibition is open daily 12–6 pm EDT, and Thursdays until 8 pm EDT.

Rasheedah Phillips’s Time Zone Protocols is a 2020–2022 Vera List Center Fellowship-commissioned project and has been supported by research assistance, production grants, and curatorial support by the Vera List Center for Art and Politics. It is curated by Carin Kuoni and Eriola Pira with curatorial assistance by Camila Palomino. The Prime Meridian Unconference is curated by Rasheedah Phillips. Additional support has been provided by the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center. Graphic design and website development by Partner & Partners.

Rasheedah Phillips is a queer housing advocate, parent, writer, interdisciplinary artist, and cultural producer who uses web-based projects, glitch art, zines, short film, archival practices, experimental non-fiction, speculative fiction, printmaking, performance, social practice, installation and creative research to explore the construct of time, temporalities, and community futurisms through a Black futurist cultural lens and experience. Phillips's writing and artwork has appeared in The Funambulist magazine, Black Futures book, e-flux Architecture, Flash Art Magazine, Philadelphia Inquirer, Recess Arts, and more. Phillips is the founder of The AfroFuturist Affair, founding member of Metropolarity Queer Speculative Fiction Collective, co-founder of Black Quantum Futurism, co-creator of the award winning Community Futures Lab, and creator Black Women Temporal Portal and Black Time Belt projects. Recognized as a national expert in housing policy, Phillips is a 2016 graduate of Shriver Center Racial Justice Institute, 2018 Atlantic Fellow for Racial Equity, and 2021 PolicyLink Ambassador for Health Equity. 

As part of BQF and as a solo artist, Phillips has been awarded the Collide Arts at CERN and Barcelona Residency award, Creative Capital award, Vera List Center Fellowship, A Blade of Grass Fellowship, Velocity Fund Fellowship, among others, and has exhibited, presented at, been in residence, and performed at Institute of Contemporary Art London, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Serpentine Gallery, Red Bull Arts, Chicago Architecture Biennial and upcoming at documenta fifteen.

The Vera List Center for Art and Politics is a research center and a public forum for art, culture, and politics. It was established at The New School in 1992—a time of rousing debates about freedom of speech, identity politics, and society’s investment in the arts. A pioneer in the field, the center is a nonprofit that serves a critical mission: to foster a vibrant and diverse community of artists, scholars, and policymakers who take creative, intellectual, and political risks to bring about positive change. 


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