As I read the curatorial statement of the exhibition TECHNO, a certain campaign slogan resonates incessantly in my head. “Make Techno Black Again” is a project represented by DeForrest Brown, Jr. to counter the fact that many people are unaware of techno culture’s roots in a Black musical tradition and its ties to Black experiences in industrialized labor systems, due to its commodification and whitewashing. The exhibition at MUSEION | Modern and Contemporary Art Bolzano, Italy, typifies this ignorance.
Why does an exhibition which aims to examine the contemporary human condition and social order through the lens of techno music disconnect the genre from its Black creators and the city of Detroit, where it originated in the 1980s? Museum director and curator of the exhibition Bart van der Heide says that he prefers a “global” perspective on techno, starting in the mid-1990s. This implies that the Blackness of techno and its global character exclude each other, which is simply not the case. As Jenn Nkiru has explained, techno can be considered a “transposed African power.” And as Arthur Jafa points out frequently, pop/Black music – including not only techno but a great diversity of musical styles – were dominant cultural forms of the twentieth century.