Performance — 2 Apr 2023

Messengers of the Sun is a project consisting of performances and textile installation that explores multiple magical layers of Black Atlantic interactions. Taking the form of an Afrofuturist ceremonial procession led by music and dancers, the performance moves through the museum. The title refers to a mythical story in which the lost children of the prophet Sun Ra are “messengers of the sun.” They live in the Sirius-B galaxy, to which ancestors from the African diaspora migrated in times of destruction in Sub-Saharan Africa.

museum ticket + € 3
Start: at the bottom of the monumental staircase
2 Apr, 3 pm until 3.30 pm
Main language

The project was co-conceived by visual artists Antonio Jose Guzman and Iva Jankovic. Together, they reinterpret the transatlantic colonial history of indigo-blue textiles, which is deeply connected with the colonial and slavery history of the Netherlands; the textiles were made particularly valuable by the African slave trade. In the installation and the performers’ garments, the indigo color represents the diasporic, cultural, and economic history of textile trade and memories of ancient spirits that are woven or saturated into the fabrics. Moreover, indigo is thought to have sacred ancestral powers, and through Messengers of the Sun, these spiritual powers are connected to the museum space and brought to the viewer of the performance.

performance Antonio Jose Guzman & Iva Jankovic, two figures with a yellow circle in front of their head, in the dark on a pile of rocks
Antonio Jose Guzman & Iva Jankovic, 'Messengers of the Sun', 2022. Courtesy of the artists. Photo: Petra Katanic.

The textiles in the installation and the  Afrimonos, the kimono-like garments worn during the performance, are printed using Ajrakh indigo block printing techniques. They are  made in collaboration with Sufiyan Ismail Khatri and his team in Ajrakhpur, India. The craft of Ajrakh is more than 4,000 years old. It is a way of life and a means of education. The artistic and practical knowledge associated with printing and natural dyes is handed down from generation to generation orally. All Ajrakh fabrics are still made using traditional printing and dyeing methods. The artists also made hair ornaments and jewelry to complement the performers’ indigo garments, working in collaboration with Trama Textiles, a Guatemalan cooperative of female Mayan backstrap loom weavers. The cooperative was formed in 1988, following some of the most devastating years of the Guatemalan civil war. During this period, many Mayan men—grandfathers, fathers, brothers, and sons—were lost.

WARNING: the performance features loud sounds


Concept, Research, Dramaturgy and Choreography:  Antonio Jose Guzman & Iva Jankovic
Dancers: Antonio Jose Guzman, Avalon Brown, Shanty Monkou, Robin Nimanong. Nathan Feliot, Mindy Cabezas & Dance Group Kuryzara
Musicians: Tatiana Koleva, Joep Vlaar, Ramiro Olivares Fuchs
Extra Performers: Iva Jankovic
Choreographic advisor: Marjolein Vogels
Costume design: Antonio Jose Guzman and Iva Jankovic
Hair stylist: Gabrielle Oosterling

Music: Transillumination #1 - A DNA Sequencing Orchestration composed by Antonio Jose Guzman, Leon Perlee and Alejandro Matamala, adapted by Tatiana Koleva; Cumbia Sampuesana by Jose Joaquin Betin adapted by Tatiana Koleva; Transillumination #71 - Genetic Orchestration composed by Antonio Jose Guzman and Ramiro Olivares Fuchs

Poems, Mixing and Soundscapes by: Antonio Jose Guzman aka Selectør Jade Flux 

Production: Hidde van Greuningen
Curators: Amanda Pinatih, Britte Sloothaak, Jasmijn Mol (intern)  

This performance is part of the exhibition When Things Are Beings at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.