Lina Iris Viktor
A Visual Artist and Performance Artist, raised in London, lives in New York and London…on her views on Art and Africa
“My goal as an artist is always to resonate, connect, and hopefully uplift the viewer on a universal level. However, my subject matter and source materials are mostly derived from the Continent and as an African, the ties that bind me to other Africans are stronger. Authenticity, integrity, and vision are an artist’s strongest arsenal–and my project is to use those values to create imagery that can reinstate those that look like me into positions of power. Our history extends beyond the past few hundred years, rather, it extends over millennia. We have a rich and glorious past. Our future will also be very bright – of that I am certain,” Viktor, born of Liberian parents, says emphatically.
“In the longer span of time, our recent history has been a blip on the radar. We must forge our present-day histories accurately so that our future histories as Africans can be built stronger upon them. That is what I hope to contribute to the African narrative within my short lifetime as an artist–and I hope I can inspire others to do the same.”
She clarifies that: “My work focuses on re-positioning the way Africans view themselves within the global context–hopefully to a position of self-proclaimed power and pride. This directive relates to Africans who actually live on the continent and have to contend with very negative and skewed global discourses that are prevalent through most media and educational outlets. However, more urgently, this conversation matters most for those within the diaspora that are removed from the continent. Most people of African descent have never traveled to their point of origin, and at this point in history, are so mentally and emotionally disconnected from their source due to the catalogued, subversive tactics that have been practiced and taught to us since the rise of slavery. The negative priming now thrives via propaganda and the media. I call attention to this reality as it affected me at an earlier age: a Liberian growing up in London.”
Viktor shares: “It took a great deal of personal exploration, travel, and research to reconfigure my viewpoints and dispel many of the untruths I was taught, and to excavate our collective histories that were completely negated from educational systems.”
She has but modest aspirations about the impact of her oeuvre. “If my work can be a vehicle to dispel the stereotypes and misrepresentations surrounding what it means to be African in a modern, contemporary context–then a lot of what I am aiming to achieve is done.”
She also acknowledges the concerted effort of Africans in various fields and industries. “I am aware that what I offer as an artist is a ‘soft power’–but that is no less concretely influential. ‘Change your thought, change your world’ is a wise quote most should be familiar with. There are many African intellectuals, entrepreneurs, architects, et al. working today whose focus is to re-build Africa on an infrastructural and economic level–the nuts and bolts of making industry within the continent competitive and self-reliant. What African artists offer within this framework is aspiration: a vision of alternative futures. Since the beginning of recorded time, the utilization of images and the idea behind said images have been the backbone of ancient and modern civilizations, and has helped build the power structures that exist today.
“So I often wonder: How ‘soft’ is the power that we wield as artists? If an image can plant a seed that changes a person’s mind, it can indeed also change their world. And consequently, the way they view themselves within it. And that makes all the difference.” There is no doubt that Viktor is one of many who aim to make a difference.