Afrofuturism is the art movement we all need to embrace

Afrofuturism - art movementAfrofuturism - art movement
Afrofuturism - art movementAfrofuturism - art movement

Afrofuturism is the art movement we all need to embrace

The African art revolution has introduced us to a plethora of new terms, ideologies and theories. One of which is ‘Afrofuturism’. It is a unique concept that has emerged with the evolution of African art, but not many of us fully understand what it entails or why we need to embrace it.


What is Afrofuturism?

This newly formed African art terminology can be thought of as an African perspective on the politics, aesthetics and cultural aspects of science, science fiction and technology. It is a movement that seeks to inspire and create a new identity by encouraging other African people to reexamine their environments and reimagine their future.

Afrofuturism art places people of an African background in science fiction-like situations, showing the Western audience that they are aware of the technological advancements taking place, and is an intersectional way of looking at possible futures and alternate realities through a black lens.


Why we need to embrace Afrofuturism

There are several reasons why we need to embrace this revolutionary concept, some of which are explored below. It is not only an art concept but one that resonates with how the world perceives Africa and the African culture.


It subverts traditional views of African culture

Placing an African person in a futuristic landscape, such as those imagined by Osborne Macharia, subverts the traditional imagery that is usually related to African art and culture. This style of art binds the future with the past by placing traditional African symbology with new technological and futuristic backgrounds and landscapes.

Simply by showing an African person in such a way subverts the norm, taking a culture that is considered to be less technologically advanced than others and imagining them as part of the world’s future. It addresses how Africa as a continent may have been forgotten from the conversation about science, science fiction and technology.


Future and past intertwine

Many Afrofuturist works combine aspects of both the past and the present in their imagery. Many science fiction works tend to eliminate the past from their narrative, but this body of African art has a great deal of reverence for ancestry and ancient societies.

By combining the past and the future, the story found in many of the artworks hold greater cultural and societal significance. Some of the pieces look to events that shaped their country and include the repercussions of these in a fantastical landscape. Many traditional elements can also be found in Afrofuturistic pieces, such as Yoruba body art and traditional music intertwined with modern hip-hop beats.


It offers more representation

In many older science fiction films, literature and art, the African culture was misrepresented or not represented at all. Afrofuturism allows African people to see their lives as a whole, emotionally, technologically, temporally and politically.

By combining African culture with fantastical future landscapes, more representation is given to African people that was previously highly lacking. This art subverts the fact that many people cannot imagine a non-European person in the distant future, by providing a lens through which a black audience sees the future. This can be seen in the recent film Black Panther, a science fiction film focusing on an African-American lead character, based in an African country in the future.


It addresses past issues

Afrofuturism does more than imagine what the future will be like for the African culture, it also addresses past discrepancies and issues. Many of them show African people in futuristic situations that have come about due to past issues.

One such artist is Fabrice Monteiro. His art explores the African landscape and how it has been affected by modernisation and Westernisation. His ‘Prophecy Series’ features sculptures made of debris, found in the African landscape and shaped to represent spirits of the Earth telling humans to learn a lesson and stop polluting what was once a pristine area. The issue of African culture embracing modernity is a common thread among Afrofuturist pieces.


Final words

Art is a vessel that carries a message to the world, whether inadvertently or intentionally. The Afrofuturism movement is one that we need to embrace and celebrate, as it is casting off the traditional views of Africa and African people. It is a revolution that aims to celebrate the past, present and future possibilities of this culture and so should become a movement that is supported worldwide.‚Äč

Afrofuturism - art movement