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Please join DiverseWorks and Paraspace Books co-founders S Rodriguez and Sara Balabanlilar for a screening and discussion of Simon Rittmeier’s short science fiction film, Drexciya (2012).

Drexciya tells the story of a German man called Thomas who works as a trafficker for European refugees seeking a better life in Africa. One day his ship sinks and he finds himself the only survivor, washed up on the African shore. He tries to reach the next megacity: Drexciya, an advanced high-tech world. Somewhere in the desert, he is stopped by a huge light fence. At the end of his rope, a group of young Africans stumbles across him: Sisay, Kanchebe, and Dylis. After a while, they decide to take him along. Yet their mission also seems to be a strange one. They are looking for an almost forgotten place. Lost in the wide desert they come to know each other – speechless, strangers in their own land.

The film’s title comes from an afrofuturist origin myth created by the Detroit-based electronic music duo, Drexciya. According to the liner notes of their 1997 album The Quest, Drexciya was an underwater country populated by the unborn children of pregnant African women who were thrown off of slave ships during the Middle Passage; the babies had adapted to breathe underwater in their mothers’ wombs.

28 minutes, shot on Super 16mm,  Germany/Burkina Faso, 2012

Drexciya (2012) Trailer from video7952 on Vimeo.

Simon Rittmeier (1981) studied visual arts and film at the Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg (HfbK) and at Academy of Media Arts Cologne (KHM). His films have been screened in various international festivals for video and documentary. In 2009 he received the First Prize of the NRW Competition at the Oberhausen Film Festival for A TASTE OF HONEY that was developed during a residency at the Fondacion Ludwig in Havana, Cuba.

DREXCIYA (2012) was selected for numerous festivals and exhibitions, including at the Studio Museum in Harlem New York, and in Washington, Kampala, and Rotterdam.

Sara Balabanlilar and S Rodriguez co-run Paraspace Books, a bookstore and workshop project devoted to queer speculative and science fiction and a 2017 Idea Fund grant recipient.

Balabanlilar is an arts organizer and administrator in Houston; she currently serves as the Marketing and Events Director at Brazos Bookstore and is a member of the DiverseWorks Artist Advisory Board. Her interests include creative programming in the arts and the intersection of technology, identity, and literature.

Rodriguez is a Houston-based interdisciplinary artist and organizer, the former Exhibitions Coordinator of Art League Houston, and a current member of the DiverseWorks Artist Advisory Board. Their work most often explores the intersections of technology, the internet, and the nature of bodies – physical, digital, and linguistic. As an artist, they have been exhibited in various galleries around Houston and will be exhibited this year at Box13 and Alabama Song.

This screening is presented as part of the curatorial project, Collective Presenceon view through April 14 at DiverseWorks.

Collective Presence programs are presented in conjunction with Houston’s Spring of Latinx Art and Latino Art Now! 2019 National Conference on Latino Art, a program of the Inter-University Program for Latino Research and hosted by the University of Houston’s Center for Mexican American Studies and the Smithsonian Latino Center (April 4 – 6, 2019).