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While it’s known by a range of names, Africentric science fiction and fantasy imagines Africans exploring and changing the universe with technology, science, and mystical means in the past, present, and future. Artists employing Africentric science fiction and fantasy, or what I call Afritopianism, work in literature, film, music, comics, fashion, video games, and more.
Recently in the US, two academics, Reynaldo Anderson and John Jennings, convened convention/art shows called the Black Speculative Arts Movement. Their only non-American participant at any early event was my guest today, the African-Canadian visual artist Quentin Babatunde Vercetty.
The Montreal-based VerCetty is an award winning visual storyteller, art educator, and graduate of the Ontario College of Art and Design University; his Afritopian work engages immigration, decolonization, and “the lack of what he calls PDAA (Public display of Appreciation for Africa(ns).” His work has thrilled viewers around the world, including in places such as Mexico, Haiti, Peru, Australia, the United Arab Emirates, and Germany. He’s the founder of the Canadian chapter of the Black Speculative Arts Movement, and he’s been working to bring BSAM shows across the country.
VerCetty spoke with me by web video on May 7, 2018. We discussed:
- Why Afritopian work appeals to so many African readers, listeners, and viewers, even though Eurocentric science fiction and fantasy ignored our existence for generations
- His favourite Afritopian artists in music and visual arts
- Why he isn’t focused on selling his work, and what he is focused on doing with it
- The indispensable technique that none of his art school teachers knew how to teach him
- How and why he uses QR codes as part of his art, and
- What a Zulu priest in South Africa influenced him to do with his work
We began by discussing his own strong identification with the African continent and its civilisations, and how that identification directly relates to his Afritopianism.
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