[ISEA2018] Artist Statement: Jethro Settler — Is Afrofuturism the next evolution of Black African Consciousness?

Artist Statement

I propose that the idea of Afrofuturism can be much more than just a visual and academic field of interest, and I want to examine the extent and modes in which Afrofuturism emerges as a black consciousness movement for the upcoming and current young generation. In a context of under-development, displacement of people, the erosion and/ conflation of ethnic culture in the face of transnational corporation determined to extract material and cultural wealth from Africa, I suggest that Afrofuturism presents as a counter-narrative to Afro-pessimism. We live in an age of self-visualization, this visual composite of self affects personality, self-worth and how young African generations see themselves in relation to the rest of the world. I wish to suggest in my research that Afrofuturism has the potential to help many young Africans imagine futures not shaped by colonialism and racism. Through the development of digital art focussed on African futures, I propose on indigenous ways of knowing and being, arts, healing practices and  scientific innovation, to offer an entry point or a lens through which postcolonial futures can be imagined. Through a digital art project, I hope to spark a conversation and debates, not only about what futures are possible but also what aspects of our collective history will survive in such a future.

  • My name is Jethro Settler (South Africa), I matriculated from Knysna High School in 2012. I have always had an intense love of drawing. After school I tried to explore the animation industry, interning at a few studios. The following year I started my university studies at Nelson Mandela University, graduating with my B-Tech degree in 2017. While studying, I was also searching for a direction and style for my art. I started to become interested in African futures, visualizing them, discussing them with friends. I became an avid watcher of my friends who came from more traditional backgrounds, watching them change and being impacted by being exposed to the vastness of the world. This inspired me to think deeper about visualizing how a young African visualizes themselves in the world’s future.

Supported by the University of KwaZulu-Natal