Art Term

Afrofuturism

Afrofuturism is a cultural aesthetic that combines science-fiction, history and fantasy to explore the African-American experience and aims to connect those from the black diaspora with their forgotten African ancestry

Ellen Gallagher, ‘Bird in Hand’ 2006
Ellen Gallagher
Bird in Hand 2006
Tate
© Ellen Gallagher

The term afrofuturism has its origins in African-American science fiction. Today it is generally used to refer to literature music and visual art that explores the African-American experience and in particular the role of slavery in that experience.

Central to the concept of afrofuturism are the science-fiction writers Octavia Butler and Samuel R. Delany and the Jazz musician Sun Ra, who created a mythical persona that merged science fiction with Egyptian mysticism. It is this otherness that is at the heart of afrofuturism.

Those inspired by afrofuturism include the musician George Clinton, the artist Ellen Gallagher and the film director Wanuri Kahiu.

Related terms and concepts

Diaspora

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AfriCOBRA

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Explore this term

Tate Etc

Wigphrastic – after Ellen Gallagher: Ellen Gallagher at Tate Modern

Terrance Hayes

Poet Terrance Hayes responds to the work of Ellen Gallagher

Listen

Afrofuturism’s Others

In the context of Ellen Gallagher’s work, speakers will explore and complicate readings of Afrofuturism and its influence on ...

Selected artists in the collection

Selected artworks in the collection

Afrofuturism at Tate

Tate Modern Exhibition

Ellen Gallagher: AxME

1 May – 1 Sep 2013
Past exhibition of acclaimed North American artist Ellen Gallagher at Tate Modern