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The Pantry Market at Keyes

Coming up 23 February 2019

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Talking Art at Keyes in partnership with Nando’s presents: Afrofuturism – real or abstract, it’s only the beginning with Bongani Madondo, Neo Mashigo and Lebo Rasethaba in conversation


The fourth in the Talking Art at Keyes series will see cultural theorist, art curator and journalist Bongani Madondo in conversation with M&C Saatchi CCO, Neo Mashigo, and award-winning filmmaker, Lebo Rasethaba.

Taking place on Wednesday, 7 November, the discussion is an interrogation of Afrofuturism and its multiple waves of influence on contemporary African identity. Coming together as critical thinkers and content creators, Madondo, Mashigo and Rasethaba will ask whether Afrofuturism has become an exhausted aesthetic derived from Pan-African pop culture and advertising, or whether it’s a global 21st-century response to the growth of social media and digital technologies.

As is likely to emerge during the Talking Art at Keyes conversation and the open discussion that follows, Afrofuturism has different entry points. One of these is provided by American scholar, Reynaldo Anderson, who recently joined forces with Madondo in a WiSER (Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research) colloquium and a series of workshops on black sci-fi. The co-editor of a new collection of academic essays, Afrofuturism 2.0: The Rise of Astro-Blackness, Anderson told City Press in an interview that “… the previous iteration of Afrofuturism was an African-American-centric post-Cold War framework based on the notion of a digital divide and the growth of the popular use of the internet by the mid-1990s. However, the contemporary second wave of Afrofuturism is a global 21st-century Pan-African response to the growth of social media platforms and digital technologies”.

In an opinion piece in the Huffington Post, Jamie Broadnax described Afrofuturism as “the reimagining of a future filled with arts, science and technology seen through a black lens”. The term was conceived a quarter-century ago by author Mark Dery in his essay ‘Black to the Future,’ which looks at speculative fiction within the African diaspora. Broadnax wrote, “Dery laid out the questions driving the philosophy of Afrofuturism: Can a community whose past has been deliberately rubbed out, and whose energies have subsequently been consumed by the search for legible traces of its history, imagine possible futures?”

A recent Nando’s commercial, “More South African Flavour” also began interrogating the widespread use of Afrofuturism in current commercial culture, particularly in the world of brands. In an examination of the commercials referenced by the Nando’s advert, Between 10 and 5 said the advert raised pertinent questions: “Why are brands selling Africa to Africa like this? And also, there’s more than one South African ‘flavour’ – assumedly referring to the current, steadily tiresome aesthetic and narrative derived from African pop culture in advertising: Afrofuturism.”

With all of this as the starting point, the upcoming Talking Art at Keyes is unmissable for anyone with an interest in Afrofuturism, contemporary culture, art and more.