PRIMARY: Boldly Going Where No Man Has Gone Before…

Rose Mason

PRIMARY, a venue on Seely Road, has invited the …And Beyond Institute for Future Research to locate its activities in Nottingham from now until June. Led by key thinker Sonya Dyer, these activities will revolve around the future, and in particular, space travel. Sonya coming to Nottingham will be the true launch of …And Beyond, and will mark the beginning of an initiative to inspire women to reach for the enormous reality that is space by simply talking.

Sonya and the …And Beyond Institute are now actively seeking partners to help create this community. In the past, white males from a high socio-economic group tended to be the heroes and pioneers of space; but …And Beyond is focused on including women from all walks of life in intergalactic exploration too. Sonya wants to promote this because she believes imagination is our most powerful tool – once we can imagine a future we can, we can manifest it.

And we all have something to offer: we don’t need prior knowledge of science or space to have ideas about the future. The future is a destination in itself and it could take many forms. It is therefore completely within reason to aim to feminise the future and open the idea of space travel to all cultures. “Why space?” you may ask. Well, Sonya’s answer would be that space, and the ability to discover it, is the ultimate expression of the future. If we wish to talk about the future, then space is both the most inevitable and ambitious starting point.

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The introductory lecture from Sonya (held on the 3rd of March) also featured the ‘intergalactic premiere’ of their infomercial, which featured images of pioneering, admirable women involved in space travel and sci-fi. Figures such as Zoe Krativz’ character from After Earth, Uhura from Star Trek and the first African-American woman in space, Mae Jemison, were all present. Sonya spoke of Mae’s history, and where her interest in space travel came from. Growing up in the 1960’s, Mae had seen Uhura in Star Trek, and from this realised she too could become an astronaut. A remarkable achievement which came simply from an idea. In turn, this inspired Sonya’s belief that the future comes from an idea, something we can all have; and day-dreaming expresses the potential in our subconscious.

Over the next few months, the project aims to hold discussions like this at PRIMARY by gathering women in a ‘think tank’ there. To begin with, ideas will be discussed about the future: what it might look like and how we can shape it. The project will then boldly go wherever the ideas of its community takes it. A Summer Future Festival, where the challenges, hopes and desires of the future can be expressed, will conclude the project. This could take the form of film screenings, talks or workshops about women in space.

The project therefore aims to bring together different types of knowledge that we can all ultimately share. The onus will be on women, though everyone is welcome, because the main focus is the future. …And Beyond simply wants to make a future where women can easily be lead pioneers as well as the male heroes of the past. With the help of Nottingham’s community, Sonya wishes to reform space travel into a woman-friendly and equal territory.

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By saying Nottingham can ‘claim’ or ‘reclaim’ space, we speak no longer in militaristic and political ways, but in terms of adventure and cooperation. …And Beyond want to understand and move away from exclusion, by incorporating extremely relevant Feminist outlooks, and using our ideas and desires as a starting point. In the words of Sonya herself, we can ‘repaint the stars’, Nottingham can manifest a future, simply from the active force of our own imagination. So see you in the think tank!

PRIMARY is an artist-led base for creative projects. Its name comes appropriately from the building’s previous use as a primary school. The space inspires creativity because of its bright, inviting openness. This makes it a perfect location for a project like the …And Beyond Institute.
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