Vernon Reid Serves Up “Artificial Afrika”

Vernon Reid, photo by Bill Berstein.

Virtuoso guitarist, composer and multimedia artist Vernon Reid explores the vicissitudes of identity and authenticity in “Artificial Afrika – A Tale of Lost Cities,” a new performance piece commissioned and presented by Dixon Place.

Premiering Feb. 10, the piece is being performed in a limited run on Feb. 11, 17-18, 24-25.  In “Artificial Afrika” the two-time Grammy Award-winner leverages hip hop, computer animation, video and dance to challenge conventional assumptions about the idea of Africa. This latest creation has Reid, best known for his band Living Colour, collaborating with hip hop performance artist Akim Funk Buddha, who’s also a throat-singer, among other talents, and DJ/drummer/filmmaker/producer Leon Lamont.

“Artificial Afrika” is a meditation on and journey through Africa, a continent brimming with diverse cultures, languages and peoples — and what Reid describes as “a notional landscape,” encompassing everything from Aunt Jemima to Tarzan, “filled with our fear and desire and hope and despair.”

The piece is “about the Africa in our minds,” Reid offered in an interview with The Lo-Down. “We walk around with all these ideas about Africa—deepest darkest Africa, mother Africa, heart of darkness, Tarzan, Aunt Jemima—this piece explores the question of what do they all mean.”