Curatorial Playlist: Imani Dennison of Black Science Fiction

Imani Dennison

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

In this curator highlight, we’ve invited Imani Dennison of Black Science Fiction to share a playlist of music that inspires them and to tell us more about what they look for in the artists they curate. Join us on June 4th, 2023 for Black Science Fiction’s National Sawdust debut. You can learn more about the program here.

What's musically inspiring me at the moment is the ability to be teleported. What I mean is to be moved to another moment in time, to be pleasantly disrupted and altered. Music changed my life a long time ago, in the basement of a church called First Gethsemane Baptist Church in Louisville, KY. I’ve always had a love for sounds, melodies, and the emotion I witnessed others experience when interacting with their instrument. Gospel was my first lesson and introduction to improv and freedom juxtaposed with the chains of the deep rooted history of Black people in the South. My grandmother Colia Lidell Clark hailed from Jackson, MS and didn't let you forget it. Grandma Colia always sang—about anything, really. She grew up during segregation and dedicated her life to the freedom of Black and indigenous people worldwide.

"What's musically inspiring me at the moment is the ability to be teleported. What I mean is to be moved to another moment in time, to be pleasantly disrupted and altered."

Decades later, I find myself spending most of my time in my cozy Brooklyn apartment listening to the collection of music I've built for years, from inherited CD collections to my own vinyl collection that I've been intentionally building, which comprises diasporic music from around the world. I love discovering new music, I love my musician friends who explore new and old sounds, and I love curating live music shows. I've been listening to a bunch of free jazz, poetry, and old interviews from some of our great Black political theorists and thinkers. I love juxtaposition when curating. I love compiling artists who may have never played stages together or shared bills, and who maybe even approach music differently. I am almost always looking for non-mainstream artists and genres to program, from underground electronic and indie artists and beatmakers to free jazz ensembles. My favorite thing about live shows is watching musicians interact and communicate with each other socially, even if their set is solo. I love lyricism and listening for the story in people's words. I come from a family of storytellers and I also am a storyteller. This observation takes me back to gospel, takes me back to my hometown Louisville where it all started.

About Imani Dennison

Imani Dennison, she/they, is a multidisciplinary lens-based artist and curator based in Brooklyn, NY by way of Louisville, KY. Imani graduated from Howard University where they studied Political Science and Photography. Imani’s work interrogates histories of Black culture in the South and African diaspora, usually centered in folklore, fantasy, and oral histories. Imani is head Curator and Programmer at Black Science Fiction. Imani is a part of the 2022 Tribeca Queen Collective Directing Program where they are in production on their experimental documentary about the impacts and erasure of the dismantlement of Black midwives in the American South. 

About Black Science Fiction

Black Science Fiction is a Black-led creative experiment dedicated to the preservation of Black imagination. Black Science Fiction is committed to amplifying the voices of Black and brown artists pushing boundaries in film, sound, and performance.