Art Term


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)

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.

  • Diaspora

    Diaspora is a term used to describe movements in population from one country to another and is often cited in discussions about identity

  • AfriCOBRA

    AfriCOBRA was a Chicago-based group of black artists whose shared aim was to develop their own aesthetic in the visual arts in order to empower black communities

Explore this term

  • Wigphrastic – after Ellen Gallagher

    Terrance Hayes

    Poet Terrance Hayes responds to the work of Ellen Gallagher

  • Afrofuturism’s Others

    In the context of Ellen Gallagher’s work, speakers will explore and complicate readings of Afrofuturism and its influence on contemporary artists’ practices, creating an intricate understanding of the genre and its evolutions.

Selected artists in the collection

Selected artworks in the collection

Afrofuturism at Tate

  • Tate Modern

    Ellen Gallagher: AxME

    1 May – 1 Sep 2013

    Past exhibition of acclaimed North American artist Ellen Gallagher at Tate Modern