8 Mainstream Things You Didn’t Realize Were Afrofuturism.

Afrofuturism, coined in 1993, is a global movement to reclaim black identity through art, culture, and political resistance. Afrofuturism is an intersectional lens through which to view possible futures or alternate realities, though it is rooted in chronological fluidity. That’s to say it is as much a reflection of the past as a projection of a brighter future in which black and African culture does not hide in the margins of the white mainstream.

Until recently the phrase Afrofuturism has avoided mainstream vocabulary. Now everyone is using it. Here are eight mainstream examples in film, fashion, art and music you probably didn’t realize was Afrofuturism.

Film

Black Panther

Black Panther with its fully realized, finely detailed vision of the technologically advanced, never-colonized African republic Wakanda is the purest expression of Afrofuturism rendered on film to date.

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Fashion

Laolu

Laolu is a visual artist, musician, human rights activist and the creator of a performance art ritual called “Sacred Art of the Ori”, a Yoruba religious practice of becoming one with yourself or awakening the God in you. His work, which marries ancient traditions, modern detail and ornate style, translates from grassroots to commercial Afrofuturism.

He was a guest speaker at TED Talks, created the mask from the Black Panther film and even worked with Beyonce.

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Stephen Burrows

So very afrofuturistic, n’est-ce pas?

Stephen Burrows is one of the fore-fathers of American fashion, and of Black fashion. The 1973 showdown between five French design houses (Yves Saint Laurent, Hubert de Givenchy, Emanuel Ungaro, Pierre Cardin and Christian Dior) and their American counterparts (Halston, Oscar de la Renta, Bill Blass, Stephen Burrows and Anne Klein), also known as The Battle of Versailles, is credited with making New York a fashion capital.

The name Stephen Burrows was synonymous with freedom and radical change, ideal symbols of an imagined Afrofuturism.

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Grace Jones in Stephon Burrows (circa 1980s)

Art

Lina Iris Viktor

Viktor’s Afrofuturism is empowering and bold. Her dreamy and stylish paintings transport you to a world where curves, confidence and brown skin reigns.

Syzygy, Lina Iris Viktor

Kehinde Wiley

Kehinde Wiley’s retro-afrofuturism portraits reconstruct the past envisioning a black society in “everyday life.” Wiley’s paintings characterize the heroic, powerful and majestic black and brown women and men found throughout the world.

Former United States President Barack Obama commissioned Wiley to paint his official portrait currently hanging in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, in Washington, D.C.

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Music

In music there is a whole new generation of artists shepherding Afrofuturism into mainstream culture. They pick up where artists such as Missy Elliot, Outkast and Erykah Badu began.

Solange Knowles

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Janelle Monae

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Willow Smith

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