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Nayuka Gorrie is reading Harry Potter. She’s up to the fourth book, she told us during last night’s Melbourne Fringe Show ‘Apocalypse in Blak’. Sirius has just told Harry that Voldemort is returning. All the signs are there: people are missing, the death eaters are back, tension is in the air.
“The apocalypse is coming,” Nayuka said. “All the signs are here.” The waters are rising. People are dying. Trump just subtweeted North Korea. All the signs are here.
Nayuka Gorrie is a Kurnai/Gunai, Gunditjmara, Wiradjuri and Yorta Yorta woman. She’s also big on blerd (black nerd) culture. Comics, fantasy and future-dystopias aren’t just for pasty white dudes. In fact, the apocalypse—and black and Indigenous people’s ability to keep on surviving—is central to Afrofuturism. If you’re not familiar with it, Afrofuturism is a movement, cultural aesthetic, philosophy and literary genre (thank you, Octavia Butler!) that situates black people in the centre of sci-fi narratives. It recognises the struggle people of colour have experienced and celebrates their ability to keep on surviving when faced with real (and imagined future) dystopias.
For Indigenous Australians, the apocalypse has already come. Recognising our pre-, post- and current-apocalyptic world is core to ‘Apocalypse in Blak’. It’s a First Nations response to, and reflection on, the end of the world. How do you imagine a future apocalypse when you’re already living in one? ‘Apocalypse in Blak’ is Afrofuturism with an Australian-edge. If we look to the past to imagine the future, the strength and endurance of Indigenous peoples is a certainty. ‘Apocalypse in Blak’ may have been a one-night-only experience, but it’s part of a bigger legacy.
Part-performance, part-dance party, ‘Apocalypse in Blak’ opened with sick experimental beats from Yorta Yorta man Neil Morris. Using collages of live sound and recordings to blend the ancient with the now, he created an incredible dystopian soundscape. Other performances included a stunning dance choreographed by Carly Sheppard, and near-hypnotic melodies from talented singer-songwriter Alice Skye. Mid-way through the event, SojuGang took over the decks, so the audience could dance and let loose.
“We’ve got to have fun even while all the bad stuff us happening,” Nayuka said, “The apocalypse isn’t just one thing. It’s always kind of present in the back of our minds. Even when we’re having fun, it’s still there.”
Once the end of the world party took off, the stage crowded with people. SojuGang (you can catch her at Laundry bar this Friday) knows a beat and the good vibes flowed. Everyone was laughing, dancing and celebrating the last moments as the earth crumbles.
“It’s not very often that you’re on the dancefloor and like everyone around you,” Alice Skye said as she took the mic for the closing act. If the world is burning, at least the d-floor is lit.
‘Apocalypse in Blak’ celebrates Aboriginal resistance and First Nation peoples’ continued survival against the apocalyptic forces of invasion, colonialism and white supremacy. Whether the next apocalypse is nuclear, climate change or something else altogether, Indigenous people will fight back and overcome.
‘Apocalypse in Blak’ was produced by Nayuka Gorrie and hosted by the Koorie Heritage Trust. If you want to stand up and fight in the upcoming apocalypse, donate to WAR (Warriors of Aboriginal Resistance) and Seed Mob—a network of Indigenous youth who are fighting climate change on the frontlines.