By Nii B. Andrews.

At the risk of oversimplification, Afrofuturism could be understood as the intersection of technology, science, visual art and music with African culture; the convergence of sci-fi and African pride.

LOCKS; Joseph Obanubi, 30 in x 30 in; 2018.

Now if that seems to generate an eye roll in this identity laden epoch, perhaps it might help to consider Afrofuturism as a push for a future where peoples of African descent everywhere have agency and are totally non subservient; fully sovereign…..just like everybody else.

But it is important to realize that sovereignty resides in the mind as radically espoused by James Baldwin in the preface to his non-fiction collection,  “The Price of a Ticket”.

SELF PORTRAIT: Joseph Obanubi, 30 in x 30 in; 2019.

And of course it is an idea that goes way beyond the screen scenes and costumes of the movie Black Panther or a fictional Wakanda.

The successful implementation of the noble objectives of Afrofuturism given the concrete reality of the here and now is the real question. For now,  there appears to be a real shortage of workers in the vinyard. 

Mark Dery when he coined the term almost 25 years ago, admitted that Afrofuturism had conceptually been already alluded to in the work of Jimi Hendrix (Electric Ladyland), John Sayles (Brother from Another Planet) and Jean-Michel Basquiat in his painting Molasses.

WHAT DREAMS ARE MADE OF: Joseph Obanubi, 30 in x 30 in; 2019.

It has been conjectured that the sci-fi genre should be easily mined by artists of African descent since they often find themselves in an alien world – (sometimes arriving there abducted!) and having to deal with ecology, laws, technology and attitudes that (? are designed to) impact adversely on them.

Often times that alien world is ironically within their African homeland! 

Joseph Obanubi has a background in advertising and graphic design; he is currently based in Lagos where he has a multimedia art practice.

STANCE: Joseph Obanubi, 30 in x 30 in; 2019.

His approach is mostly surreal; contains elements that reference Dali and or an upgrade of Twins Seven Seven for a technological future.

He is the current “Artist of the Month” at the Lagos powerhouse, Art House Contemporary. 

Is Obanubi an Afro-futurist? 

Does his work reference the album covers of Sun Ra?

Obanubi was recently announced as the winner of the Big Pitch competition organized by the British Council, Nigeria. He gained his MFA from the University of Lagos in 2017.

“Space is the Place Film Still,” 1974, by Jim Newman. “Sun Ra and his mysterious mirror-faced companion in Golden Gate Park. The photo is from the opening sequence of the film in which Sun Ra wanders a lush unspecified planet and outlines his theory on how we can move through space propelled by music, a theoretical way of travel he calls ‘trans-molecularization.’” (Courtesy Portland Art Museum)

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