Culture aficionados rejoice – today, we’re talking Afrofuturism as part of our look at Black Futures for Black History Month.
Afrofuturism is special as it reimagines the future but it also reflects on the past of the African diaspora. Afrofuturism, a term coined by Mark Dery in 1993 in his interview article “Black to the Future“, has evolved over time in African American culture and describes creative works that focus on African diaspora with a focus on science, technology, design, gender, philosophy and shaping a new future. Afrofuturism often critiques the colonial power structure and imagines an Afrocentric worldview.
Afrofuturism is complex with many different perspectives and creative paths. Please join me on a historical timeline of art over the past century of Afrofuturism, obviously not even coming close to covering it all, featuring artists that give me a lot of inspiration and hope. My wish is that this list gives you a solid start in your own discovery within your artistic tastes.
I’ve created an Afrofuturism list using the library’s Online Reading List with enduring links within our collection and some of my favourites found on the interwebs (with some extras not found in this blog post).
Zora Neale Hurston has been mentioned as the “mother” of Afrofuturism. Her novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, is often referenced as a feminist text as well as afrofuturist. Hurston is full of wisdom, applicable to present day.
There are years that ask questions and years that answer.Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
There is even a Zora Neale Hurston Arts and Humanities Festival, where a whole section of academics discuss Afrofuturism.
The rise of Afrofuturism
Afrofuturism flourished during the Black Arts Movement in the 1960s and into the late 1990s, especially in music, literature and film. Here are some of my favourites that I recommend checking out.
- Octavia Butler, author
- Grace Jones, artist
- Sun Ra, musician
- Parliament, musician
- Missy Elliott, musician
- Erykah Badu, musician
- Kerry James Marshall, artist
- Renee Cox, artist
Present Day Afrofuturism
We’re seeing a lot of exciting Afrofuturist work over the past 10 years to present-day building upon its ancestors in a wide-variety of creative endeavours.
- N.K. Jemisin, author
- Tomi Adeyemi, author
- Gerald Machona, artist
- Juliana Huxtable, artist
- Nikki Giovanni, poet
- Janelle Monae, artist
- Flying Lotus, musician
- Anderson Paak, musician
All I have left to say is Afrofuturism 4 Eva and “Live Long and Prosper” (link to Gerald Machona’s very cool artistic work).