From the European South

a transdisciplinary journal of postcolonial humanities

Sculptural eyewear and Cyberfemmes: afrofuturist arts

Annalisa Oboe


This article looks at forms of art and applied arts that straddle different times and cultural traditions and bring into view processes of African and African diasporic remaking of modes of seeing, looking and living in the continent from a futurist perspective. It shows how a combination of acts of self-representation and creative uses of waste and discarded objects may engender ways of seeing that reconfigure the world of the subject and of the watcher in a high-tech, afropolitan/afrofuturist direction, as in the innovative work of Kenyan artist Cyrus Kabiru. It also points to the creative ability of fashion design to produce imaginings of times ahead by locating the wearers – in this case women – in temporal frames that liberate them from the limitations of colonial/patriarchal traditions while also offering empowering links with the past, as in the productions of Senegalese fashion designer Oumou Sy. Afrofuturism is also the main conceptual framework of the Marvel film Black Panther (2018), about a utopian high-tech African kingdom and its super heroes and heroines. I argue that a relevant part of this diasporic production’s success rests on fashion and the enabling role of Afrofuturist costumes for African women characters.


contemporary African arts, Cyrus Kabiru, African fashion design, Oumou Sy, Black Panther, afropolitanism, afrofuturism



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