Currently on at the Arnolfini gallery in Bristol, UK, is the “Superpower: Africa in Science Fiction” exhibition . The genre takes on a special poignancy for a continent so often missing from visions of the future..
In addition to a Kenyan sci-fi film called Pulzi and Senegalese soap opera stars playing futuristic seers, the exhibition includes a series of photographs by Angolan artist Kiluanji Kia Henda, titled “Icarus 13”.
This series presents a surreal and satirical tale of man’s first expedition to the sun – achieved by an Angolan Space Programme. A rocket is launched from Luanda taking a crew of African artists, engineers and scientists to the sun. Standing in for the space bases and headquarters of this imagined African space programme are the cavernous, bizarre monuments the Soviets left behind during their time to Angola’s failed Communist state.
The rocket-like crypt of former President Neto makes a striking sci-fi set, as does this apocalyptic semi-ruined cinema below:
The Icarus 13 series was supported by the Foundation Sindika Doloko that aims to create a contemporary arts centre in Luanda, to open this year, bankrolled by the wealthy Angolan oligarch after whom it is named. With Angola booming economically and now firing on the musical front too, will it also become the next major centre for African art?
Angola of course does not have a real space programme. But it is little-remembered that nearby Zambia (or at least a fringe group there) once did: