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SOMI NWANDU On AfroFutourism

By Shola-Adido Oladotun
17 April 2022   |   8:45 am
Passion is hardly enough to describe the burning flame 28-year-old Somi Nwandu has for art. From a young age, Somi found self-expression through art and has grown to explore the unification between art and technology.  Following her recent first-of-its-kind exhibition held in Nigeria, centring around Afrofuturism, Guardian life sits down with the visual artist to…

Passion is hardly enough to describe the burning flame 28-year-old Somi Nwandu has for art. From a young age, Somi found self-expression through art and has grown to explore the unification between art and technology. 

Following her recent first-of-its-kind exhibition held in Nigeria, centring around Afrofuturism, Guardian life sits down with the visual artist to discuss the future of Afrofuturism in Nigeria.

How would you describe the reception AFROFUTOURISM has received in the Nigeria art scene?

The AFROFUTOURISM: First. Female. Forward exhibition, as experimental as this digital art experience was, did show that there is a curiosity here in Nigeria for new things, new experiences. There was a positive curiosity and open-mindedness to this concept, many were fascinated by the exhibition. Many didn’t understand the digital art space, NFTs, crypto and all that but were asking questions to gain an understanding and that in itself is a great sign for this space and Nigerians.

What is the weirdest moment and place you have had an inspiration?

I’m constantly drawing inspiration in all kinds of weird places and moments, so this is actually hard. One I can remember though, back in 2021, a friend of mine gifted me a really cool incense burner. The smoke goes down the incense holder from top to bottom like a waterfall, but it is smoke! So one day, I was sitting in my room gazing at the smoke from the incense with my zen playlist on and I had a thought (I guess you could say inspiration) to pick up a small square canvas in my room, light it up with fire and watch the smoke burn through the canvas like that of the incense smoke waterfall. I watched the direction in which the fire burned the canvas and the fluidity, which then prompted another thought about fluid art. So I painted the canvas using acrylic paint pouring to create an abstract fluid art painting.

One can describe you as a travel expert having visited several countries. How would you say this experience has been?

Yes, I love to travel. I’ve been to almost 40 countries and hope to go to as many more as I can (all of them actually). However, I really love solo travel so much. This is where some of my favourite travel experiences have come from. I always travel for the experience of other cultures. I love to immerse myself in the culture: the rhythm of the people, trying new foods, picking up a phrase or two in the native languages, and buying local, traditional goods. So far, I’ve been able to do this best, alone. My experience is always about leaving with a new perspective to add to my worldliness. I believe travelling experiences build character.

Time to put your psychic abilities to a test. Predict the future position of Afrofutourism in Nigeria? 

Hmmm. AFROFUTOURISM will be (manifesting here!) positioned at the forefront of Nigeria’s creative and cultural narrative, tourism and way of life integrated into the ecosystem and strategy of our thinking, collaborating with the public and private sectors, various organisations and building exciting art experiences. We need to work with the advancements of the present to make for a better future. The time has come for the concept of Afrofuturism to longer be just about fictional sci-fi, imaginary universes but also about taking what we have now in the present realities and amplifying that for a better tomorrow and this is what AFROFUTOURISM hopes to constantly achieve starting with the art space.

Art is life. Describe what fascinates you the most about art?

The beauty of its universal translation and comprehension. It’s like a language in itself, you are either speaking or being spoken to. The way it can be seen and heard in everything if you open yourself up to receiving it. To me, art adds so much more colour to life.

Being an artist, art curator and cultural enthusiast, it is safe to call you a triple threat. Any other secret talents we should know about?

Hmmmm, there are a few but that’s why they are secrets, haha. I’m quite the secretive person, but not to worry. When the time is right for each to come out, they will show out.

Compared to several years ago, how evolved would you say the relationship between Art and technology has been?

I’d say it’s heavily evolved especially due to the pandemic, when most of us had no choice but to stay connected via digital technology. This also strengthened more relationships with tech, including art. We are looking at more virtual galleries, NFTs, Meta, more digital artists and creative technologists emerging like never before and becoming more mainstream. This evolution is a revolution indeed. I don’t think the AFROFUTOURISM exhibition would have had the same level of success it did if it happened several years ago. So I’m here for the growth!

What artists do you look up to, and how have their works inspired you during the course of your career? 

Ahhhh, this is hard, I admire some traits in several people and artists but I choose to find inspiration elsewhere, rarely in the works of others but more so in things like the understanding of the mind, music, travelling, and personal experiences.

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