?UESTIONS: Kytana Winn

Kytana Winn's work is a fusion of tribal, science fiction and the great unknown.

Kytana embodies the new surreal. Her work is beautifully layered and sincere, it can be compared to ancient tribes and their connection to the universe. Her magnificent art bridges the gap between nature, modern society and the future.

Can you explain the concept of Afrofuturism and your approach within your work?

The term Afrofuturism was first coined by scholar Mark Dery in his 1993 essay, “Black to the Future,” as “speculative fiction that treats African-American themes and addresses African-American concerns in the context of 20th-century technoculture and, more generally, African-American signification that appropriates images of technology and a prosthetically enhanced future might, for want of a better term, be called Afrofuturism.

[However], the notion of Afrofuturism gives rise to a troubling antinomy: 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?”(Dery, 180)

I believe after this terms conception with skepticism, the umbrella that is Afrofuturism has risen to answer Drey’s question with a resounding yes and creating the core idea that Afrofuturism reimagines and then subsequently informs futures of what our diaspora is capable of achieving and creating philosophically culturally, spiritually and technologically outside of Eurocentric/Western constructs and ideals of Blackness. 

Recently I watched a talk by scholar and professor Lonny J Avi Brooks, hosted at Creative Museum HQ  in Oakland, and he notably stated that,

“The Black experience is futuristic. On some level, it was always a science fiction horror story and another level a story about alien abduction, and because of this Black people have always been futurists. They had to be. Imagine being taken from your home planet in  West Africa with the latest in bondage technologies, kidnapping them and dislocating them from their home planet, taking them to an alien new world where they had to innovate and not be allowed to speak their own languages, celebrate their rituals, or even play their music. They had to adapt to a new religion and fuse it with their own rituals under the radar. Cruelty has shaped the Black Diaspora and part of Afrofuturism is reinventing and reclaiming the trauma past atrocities against the queer and Black Diaspora  and augmenting new pathways, new alternative memories of the future.”

This really struck me in a profound way because I had never really associated Afrofuturism being practiced so far in the past but find that these themes of augmenting, reshaping, and surpassing slavery trauma to be jumping off points in this artistic movement to later then subvert Eurocentric ideals altogether.

Afrofuturism also lends a powerful hand into Black Feminism, which is the section I'm creating and exploring in. I'm continuously contemplating and rotating the multifaceted idea of The Divine Feminine in Space, after reading Yatasha Womack's Afrofuturism: The world of Black sci-fi and fantasy culture. In chapter 8, The Divine Feminine in Space,  Ytasha Womack describes this term best with the assertion that:

“Afrofuturism is a home for the Divine Feminine by principle, a Mother Earth ideal that values nature, creativity, receptivity, mysticism, intuition, and healing as partners to technology, science, and achievement. The divine feminine is the other side to the information-gathering process, and tapping into it is a process of choice for many Afrofuturist. There's a widespread belief that humankind has lost connection to nature, to the stars, to a cosmic sense of self, and that reclaiming the virtues of the divine feminine will lead to wholeness. Many men in the genre embrace the principle as much as women do (Womack,103)

So within my work, I try to approach this idea with internal musings like, What would a divine feminine in space look like? What does the reconstruction of the black female body rooted in cybernetic evolution inspire? What kind of life-changing adventures can the Black female have in space? From there I use my imagination, and experience in my specific diaspora as an African-American female to create answers in the form of, hopefully, beautifully lush and complex collages.