Afropunk panel on The Nature of Creativity at the Millroom

Photo by Tariq Zeidan

The panel was titled “The Nature of Creativity,” but when artists and creatives Marcia Jones, Sanford Biggers, Saul Williams and Greg Tate took the Millroom stage, it was clear that the four weren’t concerned with sticking to any one subject.

The panelists spoke about everything from feminism to racial identity, twerking (“Honor the magic in her ass moving, no matter who’s twerking,” advised Jones) to the art world and the usefulness of terms like a post-black and afrofringe (“I’m of the camp that all categories end up in shackles,” offered Biggers.) Tate took on the role of moderator and steered the conversation with a light touch. In truth, each tangent was so interesting that not much steering was needed — and the audience was more than willing to go along for the ride.


Jones, who was added as a speaker seemingly last-minute (she was not on the schedule and shared a microphone with Biggers) volunteered to “represent the female on the journey … It’s some of the mundane things that in our way like beauty and product,” she said, adding that “mother earth is at the core of everything.” Williams, who often sounded like he couldn’t help but speak in poetry, agreed, saying, “It if weren’t for the moon, we wouldn’t have mountains.”

Biggers, who was featured in the film screening of The Tryptich before the panel discussion, spoke about the importance of history in his art. When he shows his work, he says, “I might list metal or wood or sand or glass, but I don’t list history. … We are all historians.”

In Tate’s closing statements, he told the audience that “We need to be honest about identity allows and doesn’t allow in this country,” adding, “we’re so far from that type of utopic conversation because all people are not human yet.”

More on the artists:

Marcia Jones is best known for her work as a performance artist and painter. Learn more about Jones and her work here.

Saul Williams recently moved from Paris to NYC. He is a performance artist, poet and musician. Learn more about Saul Williams here.

Sanford Biggers is a NYC-based artist. He creates artworks that integrate film, video, installation, sculpture, performance and more. Learn more about Biggers here.

Greg Tate is a prolific writer on music, culture and politics. He spent 16 years writing for The Village Voice. The Source Magazine recently identified him as one of the “godfathers of hip-hop journalism.” Learn more about Tate here.




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