The Book of Drexciya, original idea and painting by Abu Qadim Haqq.
Layouts: Abu Qadim Haqq.
Authors: Abu Qadim Haqq, Dai Sato.
Pencilers: Leo Rodrigues, Leonardo Gondim, Milton Estevam.
Inkers: Leonardo Gondim, Milton Estevam, Alan Oldham.
Colorists: Hector Rubilar, Danierl Oliviera, Abu Qadim Haqq.
Letterer: Abu Qadim Haqq.
Publisher: Tresor, Berlin, november 2019.
The Book of Drexciya tells ancient stories coming to the surface.
The twelve images are part of the project The Drexciyan Empire: five chapters of the first volume concerning the birth of Drexciyans from the ancient times to the present. Drexciya can be considered one of the most powerful imagery of Afrofuturism.
The book is a graphic novel, whose beginning is the tragedy of the Middle Passage: African pregnant women thrown off the slave ships, gave birth underwater to amphibious creatures. They could breath as they did in their mothers’ wombs, they had webbed hands and feet and became the drexciyan wave jumpers: great warriors of the abyss.
The myth is well known, as found in some pages of Beloved (Toni Morrison, 1987), where the theme of the memory layered in the abyss and the relationship between past and future of African American culture are inhabited by the iconography of water. Abu Qadim Haqq, American visual artist from Detroit, Michigan, started to spread this imagery, that nobody called Afrofuturist in those days, at the end of the 1980s, along with the birth of techno music and electro.
He is considered by the Drexciyan Empire one of their agents on the surface, graduate of Doctor Blowfin’s Science Academy. Qadim Haqq, also know as The Ancient, has always been inspired during his childhood by science fiction and comics, Greek and Northern mythology of the past along with Japanese animation.
Chapter 1: The Origin of the Story
It was the electro duo from Detroit named Drexciya, formed by James Stinson and Gerald Donald, who started the Drexciyans mythography throughout their discography. It was revealed in the inner sleeve notes of the album called The Quest (1997). Through a map of the diasporic black culture, Drexciya illustrated four phases: The Slave Trade, Migration Route of Rural Blacks to Northern Cities, Techno Leaves Detroit, Spreads Worldwide, and The Journey Home (Future). The return to what is perceived as home, is located in the future: it is for this reason that drexciyan music is a “sonic fiction” (Eshun 1998) which moves between black African roots and the contemporary american routes, surfing with sounds in a dimensional jumphole.
The afrofuturism in drexciyan poetics is made evident thanks to the brilliant hand of Qadim Haqq who helped those stories to be translated into a deep and complex imagery for the first time.
Chapter 2: Dr. Blowfin discovers Neptun’s Liar
Along the routes traced on the map of The Quest album, it is possible to meet many different creatures and warriors, from different ages and spaces, such as the Wavejumpers and the Deep Sea Dwellers (both of them are titles and recurrent topics in Drexciya’s tracks).
Dance night in Drexciya
As noted in the introduction of the documentary The Last Angel of History by John Akomfrah (1996), the legend of Robert Johnson says that he sold his soul at the crossroads of the Deep South: «[…] and in return he was given the secret of a black technology, a black secret technology, that we know to be known as the blues, the blues began jazz, the blues began soul, the blues began hip-hop, the blues began r&b. Now, flash-forward, 200 years into the future, the next figure, another bad boy, scavenger poet figure, is called the Dated Thief, 200 years into the future, is told a story: – If you can find the crossroads, a crossroads, this crossroads, if you can make an archeological dig, into this crossroads, you’ll find fragments, techno-fossils, and if you put those elements, those fragments together, you find a code, crack that code, and you’ll have the keys to your future. You’ve got one clue, and it is a phrase, mothership connection» (1996).
Electronic music composed by Drexciya is a vision of that code, a sound of the techno-fossils, a medium to communicate through different time and space along the geographical diasporic area.
Commander of Bubble One, control center of the Aquabahn and all of its aqua wormhole gateways. She is X205 and at the beginning of the track entitled Bubble Metropolis she alerts the visitors that they are crossing the border, but her speech is gentle, she says: «This is Drexciyan Cruiser Control, Bubble One, to Lardossen Cruiser 8-203X, please decrease your speed to 1.788.4 kilobahn, thank you. Lardossen Cruiser 8-203X, please use extra caution as you pass the aqua construction site on the side of the aquabahn. I repeat, proceed with caution. […] Have a nice stay here in Drexciya, if ou have any problems let me know» (Drexciya feat. X205, Bubble Metropolis introduction, 1993).
All captions by: Drexciyan Empire
Images: courtesy of The Drexciyan Empire, Abu Qadim Haqq.
Essential Bibliography and sources
Attimonelli C., (2008), Techno. Ritmi afrofuturisti, Meltemi, Milano, 2018.
Benedetti A., (2006), Mondo techno, Stampa Alternativa, Viterbo, 2018.
Eshun K., More brilliant than the Sun. Adventures in Sonic Fiction, Quartet Book, London, 1998.
Drexciya Research Lab
Gaskins N. R., Deep sea dwellers. Drexciya and the sonic third space, in “Shima Journal”, Shima Volume 10 Number 2 2016.
Haqq A. Q., 1989 – 2014, 25 years of Techno Art, Third Earth Visual Art, 2014.
Morrison T., Beloved, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1987.
Zlatopolsky A., Redbull Music Academy, 2014.
Abu Qadim Haqq talks with C. Attimonelli, L. Montefinese at Exp Records, Bari, 2019. VIDEO edt. RKO.
James Stinson (Drexciya) 1999 phone interview w/Andrew Duke, S. Rennicks, 2011.
Techno Art: dall’immaginario afrofuturista al Book of Drexciya,
Abu Qadim Haqq – live painting, Andrea Benedetti – djset, Macro Asilo, Roma, 2019, VIDEO, edt. Monkyes VideoLab.
Discography and iconography by Drexciya
Bubble Metropolis, EP Underground Resistance, 1993.
The Quest, Submerge, 1997.
A deep thought goes to James Stinson (Drexciya) who left this world on September the 3rd in 2002, without him and his desire to tell the stories of the diaspora and the aquatopia, the underwater world of Drexciyans would still be hidden. Drexciya, through the Afro-futuristic medium of electronic music, created a whole universe of hope, the hope that a new “sonic fiction” may emerge from the Mediterreanean Sea.
Abdul Qadim Haqq (born December 24, 1968), is an American illustrator, painter, visual artist who was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. He is considered Detroit’s number one ambassador of art for world-renowned techno music artists. Haqq’s artwork is featured worldwide on classic records by Detroit Techno record labels, namely the records of J. Atkins, Metroplex, D. May, Transmat, Underground Resistance, K. Saunderson, C. Craig. Abdul Qadim Haqq has been serving the techno music community through Techno Visual Art since 1989. His artwork continues to inspire fans all over the world.
Claudia Attimonelli is researcher in Theories of Language and Sciences of Signes and teaches Multimedia Studies and Visual Culture, Semiology of Cinema and Audiovisuals at the University of Bari, Aldo Moro. She runs MEM, Mediateca Emeroteca Musicale in Puglia. Her research is disseminated between electronic culture, art and media. Among her publications: La banalità del malessere: junkie (2016); The migrating sense of photography in JR and Banksy (2016); Pornocultura. Viaggio in fondo alla carne (with V. Susca, 2016); Techno. Ritmi Afrofuturisti (2008-2018).