Developed out of Rasheedah Phillips’s ongoing practice as a member of Black Quantum Futurism, the Vera List Center for Art and Politics presents Time Zone Protocols, the accompanying Prime Meridian Unconference, and debuts the digital project www.timezoneprotocols.space.
The exhibition and Unconference explore the implications of the 1884 International Meridian Conference (IMC), a convening that established a prime meridian, enforcing a universal time standard. Tracing the “Protocols of the Proceedings,” the written and unwritten political agendas and social agreements that underlie Westernised time constructs, Phillips examines the ways in which time protocols reglautate, catalyse, and perpetuate systems of oppression that deny marginalised people access to and agency over the temporal domains of the past and present, with a focus on Black communities in the US. Time Zone Protocols and the Prime Meridian Unconference rewrite and rezone dominant time structures, proposing alternative protocols for new, equitable futures.
Time Zone Protocols debuts a nonlinear map pinpointing socio-historical events in the development of Western time consciousness. Focusing on the 1884 International Meridian Conference as a critical point on the Western timeline, the map illustrates the backward and forward-reaching impacts of time standardisation and colonised time. Designed to host the Prime Meridian Unconference, the exhibition space displays books, posters, videos, and research materials from the Time Zone Protocols project, while guiding visitors through an examination of the implicit and explicit rules underlying Westernised time constructs, such as time zones and Daylight Saving Time.
The three-day, hybrid Prime Meridian Unconference brings together artists, architects, musicians, physicists, geographers, technologists, and scholars of African American Studies. Through interactive talks, workshops, panels, performances, and plenary sessions, the participants consider new ways of understanding our relationship to space-time, utilising specific Black social, geographical, and cultural frameworks that seek to unmap Black temporalities from the Greenwich Mean timeline. Together they explore and unpack the standards and protocols of time that have left and continue to leave Black people locked out of the past and future – stuck in a narrow temporal present. Speakers and presenters include Camae Ayewa (Moor Mother), Asia Dorsey, Walter Greason, Joy Tabernacle-KMT, Kendra Krueger, Ingrid LaFleur, V. Mitch McEwen, Katherine McKittrick, Danielle M. Purifoy, Ingrid Raphaël, Thomas Stanley, Ujijji Davis Williams, and Celeste Winston. The Unconference produces alternative principles that relate to the possibilities of reshaping, remapping, dismantling, and creating new time zones, or protocols of time. By enabling Black communities with the agency to survive, thrive, and access their futures and pasts, the Unconference and Time Zone Protocols propose more expansive, healthier presents.
Preceding the exhibition and Unconference is the launch of www.timezoneprotocols.space. The site documents the ongoing Time Zone Protocols research project and sets the stage for the exhibition and Prime Meridian Unconference. It offers an interactive space for rewriting the protocols of time, rezoning the time zones, and unmapping the imperialist global time colonisation project with a Black [Quantum] futurist lens. It also presents an ongoing archive of over three hundred research materials on cultures of time, temporality, time zones, clocks, and more. Illustrating ways of marking and tracking alternative temporalities, the site bridges this iteration of Time Zone Protocols with Black Quantum Futurism’s forthcoming Creative Capital project Time Zone Protocols: Confederate States. The Unconference will be livestreamed on the Time Zone Protocols website and veralistcenter.org.
In the two months leading up to the exhibition and Unconference, Phillips convened a group of Time Zone Protocols Surveyors – individuals who met to examine and discuss TZP research materials, including an archive of readings, images, sounds, and videos on time zones, time, temporality, prime meridians, and temporal oppression as experienced by Black communities. The Surveyors attend and contribute to the Unconference, collectively developing protocols, resolutions, temporal tools, time zones, and markers. These principles and new protocols are compiled and shared, with attendees taking the principles back to their communities with a commitment to working toward upholding them and creating liberated futures, new space-times, and environments where these shared principles can be utilised and honoured.
Using Black Quantum Futurism and Colored People’s Time as ontological frameworks, the exhibition, Unconference, TZP Surveyors Discussion Group, and accompanying digital space www.timezoneprotocols.space propose alternative theories of temporal-spatial consciousness.
Time Zone Protocols will be taking place from the 4th until the 18th of April 2022. Prime Meridian Unconference will be taking place from the 15th until the 17th of April 2022. For more information, please visit veralistcenter.org