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Afrofutourism: Nigeria’s all-female digital art exhibition

An Afrofutourism exposition in Nigeria   -  
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Technology is changing the way art works are drawn, displayed and sold in different parts of the world.

More traditional art works display and exhibitions are moving onto the digital space where many artists are able to sell their work to art collectors on the non-fungible tokens (NFTs) Market.

Nigerian Art curator Somi Nwandu and creator of Afrofutourism is part of the new age.

She is using Afrofutourism, an all-female digital artist international exhibition to showcase the works of black female artists.

Nwandu explains that her aim is to put digital artists of African descent, especially the female folks on the world map.

“Afrofutourism is about celebrating and exploring reimagined African features through the art.” she told David Agunloye Taylor, Africanews correspondent in Lagos.

“The idea is for it to be a traveling exhibition around Africa and the world, this is the premiere edition in Lagos, Nigeria.” she stressed.

It’s Nwandu’s belief that art collectors need to have a first-hand experience of digital art display and that this is the only way to create the change needed for them to embrace it.

“The idea is to put these digital ideas to life, the digital space a lot of things still stay in the digital but for people to see them in the physical space really helps to amplify and highlight the versatility and the dynamic effect of the digital art”

Over the decades, Nigeria has developed a big local traditional art market. But digital art remains widely untapped.

A young Nigerian artist Derek Jombo, advises traditional artists to find ways to explore the digital space and to present their works to more art collectors.

“Digital art brings art together whether you are traditional or a digital artist, there is a principle that binds all of us together. Regardless of what you practice, whether you are a traditional sculptor it is something you can put your knowledge into. It’s of great use digitally too, digital art is something we should try.”

Jombo who showcased some of his work at the Afrofutourism exhibition explained that most of the works presents another level of surrealism. “What I do is surrealism. This is surrealistic but in another dimension.”

Another participant at the Afrofutourism exhibition in Lagos, Hannah Udeh, a literature Student and Art Collector says it was an experience which thrilled her imagination.

“When I got the chance to attend, it was beautiful to see the vibrant colours, the fashion, the new fashion and the old fashion, then you have like African settings with space galaxy merged like everything into it.”

Udeh added that “it was new to see the traditional meet the very new and very futuristic kind of art.”

An American artist Mike Winkelman’s collection which goes by the name Beeple remains the most expensive digital image ever and the third-highest price paid for the work of any living artist.

The blockchain-verified artwork fetched over $69 million at auction in March 2021.

According to Data, sales of NFTs rose to $10.7 billion in the third quarter of 2021, recording more than an eightfold increase from the previous quarter.

While there is a huge potential to earn big from sales of art works in Nigeria, the country’s prohibition of banks and financial institutions from enabling cryptocurrency payments remains one of the biggest challenges which faces digital artists.

But one thing the artists and curators at the all-female international exhibition, in Lagos agree on is that the time has come for the west African nation to explore digital art to mirror life, and to reimagine and design a new African future.

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