Arts + Culture

NextGen: Look to Lina Iris Viktor for Illuminating Depictions of Black Girl Magic

The first profile of our July 'NextGen' series highlighting talents who envision a black future features visual artist Lina Iris Viktor.

DIASPORAOver the course of July we'll be publishing short profiles, essays and interviews on the theme of "Afrofutures." Together these stories will be a deep dive into the way African and diaspora thinkers, technologists and artists view a future for Africans in the world and outside of it. 


Take a look at our introduction to Afrofuturism here.

Throughout this month, we'll also highlight and celebrate young, leading talents who already put into practice what a future with black people look like through their work in our daily profile series, 'NextGen.'

We kick off the series with artist and visionary, Lina Iris Viktor.

Self-portraiture is an expendable, infinitely interpretive space to express reflections of ourselves. In our mind's eye, we may be more glamorous than we physically present ourselves to the world, or worse: less glorious than we truly are.

'Syzgy' (2016). Lina Iris Viktor. Photo via Instagram.

British-Liberian artist Lina Iris Viktor sees her work beyond the confines of self-portraiture—a universal form that enhances her worldly persona, evolving herself into an ethereal, regal being. Using paints of white, blue, black and browns, geometric patterns, photography and pure gold, Viktor presents herself as a sensual goddess, an intimidating empress, a fierce queen, and so much more.

Photo via Lina Iris Viktor's Instagram.

The narratives behind her paintings reclaims the ideas of black girl magic by envisioning herself as an intergalactic, otherworldly black female entity. “My work is an abstraction of self—an obliteration,” Viktor says in an interview with OkayAfrica. “...Those portraits, whether viewed as me or not, are an act of defiance, and in there lies something that is empowering. It controls the gaze—demands respect.”

'the body black series, 2015.' Lina Iris Viktor. Photo via Instagram.

Considering the stereotypes attached to black women—hypersexualization, fetishization, misogynoir, the angry black women—Viktor’s worlds negate these notions and pursue a more enlightened, uplifting narrative that’s been echoing in our inner ears for centuries: black women are magic, dripping in gold.

Lina Iris Viktor. Photo via Instagram.

Viktor’s Afrofuturism is timeless, empowering and bold. One look at her dreamy, stylish images and we are transported into a world where curves, confidence and brown skin reigns, and where gold is an element used to evoke emotion, tell stories and symbolize our royalty—exactly what our ancestors would have wanted.

Lina Iris Viktor. Photo via Instagram.

Watch Lina Iris Viktor speak on the misconceptions of blackness in art in this video and keep up with her on Instagram here.

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