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