Fantasy and sci-fi themes combine with non-Western cosmologies in the rising movement known as "afrofuturism." In light of the trend we've seen emerging in the art world, from the African Perspectives at this year's Armory art fair to the establishment of 1:54, the Contemporary African Art Fair, Ghanaian rapper M.anifest’s new video for “W'ani Aba” featuring Bisa Kdei caught our eye.
Afrofuturism is often used by artists on the African continent and in the diaspora to depict the lasting spiritual power of their own historical cultures today—and in the future. M.anifest is known for his socially conscious lyrics and as video director Garth von Glehn puts it, “he gives people a window to look through but allows them to see things how they want to see them, to see the best versions of themselves. This is why we gave him the role of the eccentric inventor.”
W'ani aba itself means “to see with envious eyes.” The idea of “seeing beyond” is central to afrofuturist ideology, and in the video for "W'ani Aba," Von Glehn has taken inspiration from a memory of his 16-year-old self walking in on his brother listening to Sun Ra in total darkness. “Talking about ‘Space is the place’ and the Omniverse... It stuck with me forever, that there was something in the darkness, in music and in our minds that you could see better with your eyes closed.”
Using the afrofuturist glasses created by Accra-based artist Serge Attukwei Clottey, M.anifest conjures the artist's "spiritual approach to individual power." The glasses are the portal to the future. Says M.anifest, “I think greatness in art lies in its ability to let you see beyond.”
Check out the video below: