The Detroit Afrikan Funkestra is an open-air opera in three acts. Produced by the Detroit Afrikan Music Institution for the Detroit Design Festival, the Funkestra's first performance took place in the North End against the picturesque and unlikely backdrop of the Oakland Avenue Urban Farm. Amongst kale and hibiscus plants, twelve musicians representing a breadth of genres recounted an incomplete history of music in the city.


The scenography, much like the opera itself, is a playful smashup. Sampling a number of existing and disappeared performance stages from music venues in the neighborhood, the Funkestra set is a nostalgia-free reconfiguration calibrated to look both familiar and renewed. Using simple materials – plywood, house paint, glitter, and hardware – the stage is conceived as a subliminal supergraphic, hinting at the underexposed narratives associated with the neighborhood context.

Detroit Afrikan Funkestra, 2016

Detroit, Michigan



Anya Sirota

Jean Louis Farges


In collaboration with:

Detroit Afrikan Music Institution

Project team:

Taylor Montgomery

Ian Donaldson


With assistance from:

Christopher Holder, Sam Okolita, Lindsey Karasik, Jon Watkins, Eric Howard


Thanks and support:

Knight Foundation, Detroit Design Festival, Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning