Lead by this generation of change-makers, artists and activists, Afropunk brings its 2018 Carnival of Consciousness to the streets of Atlanta’s Mechanicsville neighborhood for its 3rd year.
A festival celebrating the avant-garde, Afropunk reflects a thriving subculture of individuals that have not only made a space and platform for themselves but also spurred a movement for alternative blackness. These influencers, creatives, artists, and muses work outside the conventions of what blackness and art are “supposed to be,” and not only define what it means to be “Afropunk,” but embody the concept itself.
Afropunk musical culture is wide spanning and ever-evolving, describing lo-fi bedroom pop melodies as much as R&B influenced screamo. The lineup of the 2018 festival particularly stands out for its diversity, featuring headliners such as The Internet, N.E.R.D. and Pusha-T.
While the lineup contains a myriad of distinct artists, sounds, and genres, performances by Txlips, SATE, Benjamin Booker, and the Internet particularly blew away crowds.
However, Afropunk acts as more than a music festival, also servings as a creative platform and art showcase for a range of works such as film, installation, painting, and multimedia. The art exhibited, illuminated in neon hues, exists in a spectrum of color and form. Art pieces splatter and hang from the walls, from abstraction and conceptual work to portraits and pop culture pieces; installation climbing to ceiling heights and ephemera like found-object art perplex and intrigue festival-goers.
The fashion and aesthetic choices of Afropunk’s attendees reflect the offbeat and eccentric philosophy the festival promotes and the culture that it fosters. Afropunkers unbound their locs, braids, coils and curls adorned with crowns of glitter and flower petals. These creatives and influencers display their individualism outward, and don fashions made of vinyl and plastic, corduroy and velvet, silk kimonos floating in the breeze, and the thin gauze of long maxi skirts accentuate the golden melanin of the skin underneath.
In a society in which blackness is criminalized and defined by stereotypes, Afropunk reminds the world that black people are more than FOX News headlines and mugshots, and black culture is as beautiful as it is nuanced. Afropunk fuels its unprecedented creative expression from a DIY-aesthetic and culture, existing at the intersection of punkness and blackness. Experimental and experiential, the festival showcases multifaceted blackness and outlier creative expression. The philosophy and nature of the festival expands as its community does. But the bottom line of it is this: To be black is to be punk, and to be Afropunk is to be radical.
Erin Davis is a journalist and photographer dedicated to documenting the avant-garde and unconventional and strives to uplift the creative expression of marginalized communities and subcultures.