Hailing Frequencies Open intersects Nichelle Nicols’ astronaut recruitment activism, the dubious genesis of ‘HeLa’ cells and the Greek myth of the Ethiopian Princess Andromeda (who became both a galaxy and a constellation) – combining social justice with speculation, fantasy with the political.

In the 1970s Nicols developed a programme enabling the first American woman in space and the first Black man in space. HeLa cells – taken from the body of a Black American women named Henrietta Lacks – hold scientific significance as they are ‘immortal’ and can reproduce under practically any circumstances. These cells were the first human materials sent into Space – by the Soviets in 1960.

HFO builds a world (through film, performance and sculpture) wherein the HeLa cells are still in Space – and travelling towards Andromeda. Andromeda metaphorically embodies the reclamation of the neglected stories of Black women of science and myth

Action>Potential (2023). Video Still.

The Betsey-Drake Equation (2022). Video Still

Andromeda (2021). Video Still.

Reimagining the Future is a short video produced for the Somerset House Channel that unpacks the role of science fiction and speculative worlds in my practice and explores the influences behind the works Action>Potential (2023) and Lucy. The culmination of Hailing Frequencies Open.

This video – produced for Delfina Foundation as part of their science_technology_society, residency programme in Autumn 2020 –  further explains the project:

Previous work:
The ...And Beyond Institute for Future Research