ME/NA/SA FUTURISMS MENASA FUTURISMS :: 1 - Page 15

In a pessimistic, lamentable Middle Eastern reading, one can find some comforting nostalgia in the despair from the fact that really, there isn’t any such possible return But for Afrodiasporic culture, specifically in the form of Afrofuturism, such despair has evolved into a reinvention of narratives that attend to the “cultural and historical void left behind by the Middle Passage”. More recent manifestations of Afrofuturism deal with matters not solely defined by a direct relationship to colonial violence, such as hip-hop, feminist sci-fi, holographic popular culture, augmented space, and more classical forms of art. For example, in another chapter in the book, Kenya- born and Brooklyn-based artist, Wangechi Mutu’s painting Non je ne regrette rien (2007), is examined as a form of “cyborg grammar.” Using collage as a technique of deconstruction and reconstruction, Mutu assembles a mutilated and disfigured human-machine-animal cyborg from anatomies of a scorpion’s tail, a motorcycle wheel, an animal’s hoof, a serpent, and blooming flowers. By employing Afrofuturism as a cultural- historical practice, Mutu’s work assists those who might wish to step outside representations of gendered objectifications and discourses of victimization: Mutu revises spaces of capital and commerce that have historically figured black female subjects as objects for consumption – from beauty magazines to science pamphlets to anatomy textbooks…Non je ne regrette rien unhinges the black female body as a locus upon and within which normative racial, gender, and sex codes materialize…it demands that we rethink what it means to be black, woman, and human in the twenty-first century. Taken from a wider perspective, Afrofuturism, as the book seeks to assert, can be moulded into a vibrant, analytical framework for exploring notions and practices of temporality in African cultural production. Indeed, the numerous studies and examples that unfold across the different parts of the book point to the rising instrumentalization of futurist and sci-fi aesthetics as important politically charged practices within contemporary Afrodiasporic culture.