Photographer, Art Director and stylist Daniel Obasi‘s latest offering is the creation of an Afro Futurist fashion film for the eminent textile designers Vlisco and A Whitespace Creative Agency (AWCA) titled ‘An Alien in Town’.
A sequence of lush palm trees and fauna are contrasted by the earthy brown landscape that acts as a bordered scenery. From a distance, a motorcycle slowly appears, distinguished by its cattle horn adornment. Its riders in strikingly styled fashion combinations. They are met with the alien (Benita Ango). A blue life form has her back turned towards her onlookers. With a gentle movement, she turns to meet the gaze of her audience.
The earth below her feet mimics the surface of a crater. The viewer is met with transitioning images of space, the alien in profile caught in a medium frame as well as a wide shot that exemplifies her otherworldliness. She faints.
Her onlookers take on a more active role and with the curiosity and near naivety of children, they approach her. They take her in and attempt to teach her the ways of humankind, of human culture. With the metropolis of Lagos as the setting of this tale, the viewer is taken through a variety of scenarios in which the alien life form finds itself. This emphasizes how out of place she is in this human world. She examines this new found space for the first time and is clearly amazed by all that she witnesses. She studied her hands, a book, the television. Her alien-ness is highlighted by her incorrect use of a fork and non-intrinsic manner of attempting to consume food. What is deeply apparent is an emotional detachment that flows through the entire piece. It is implied that the alien identifies more with a mannequin than with the humans who have given her refuge.
Obasi’s work takes the form of a gestural film as there is no audible dialogue and yet, the gestures and narrative are well woven together so that the simple storyline cannot be construed as one of haphazard play (every scene has been well thought out). A theme that is carried throughout the film is that of fashion. We see the male character played by Oke Tobi Subomi in the film take the human femme (Rebecca Fabunmi) and alien into a photo shoot setting made up of Vlisco fashion and a backdrop pattern of black and white squares against which the fashion ensembles stand out triumphant. Headpieces, beaded on the humans and more futuristic on the alien take centre stage.A scene lingers in a dark room with red light and as we see the last of the alien’s stay the lighting takes on a blue, extra-terrestrial statement. The darkroom where the male character develops his images of the fashion shoot act as a possible signifier towards an act of creating a physical object – a proof of what had transpired – an alien visiting Lagos. Obasi ends off his piece with the alien in the same setting she was originally found and the viewer assumes that it is the last that will be seen or heard from the alien. The upbeat soundtrack that flows through the piece assists in making this film light-hearted and the viewer does not perceive her voyage home as one that should be taken in with sadness.Obasi’s contemporary Afro Futurist film is vibrant and celebrates Nigerian culture as well as focuses on African fashion and the energy that it carries. His considerations of the colour of lighting and the possible symbolism connected, adds another layer to this work. His ability to keep a concise narrative throughout the film despite having no audible dialogue verges on brilliance. I look forward to his next offering.
Art Direction & Styling: Daniel Obasi
Videography: Ugo Oparadike & assistant Deji Adekoya
Production Assistant: Ifeoma Kalu
Composer: Emmanuel Ejidike
Editor: Matuluko Robert
Hair: Happiness Okon
Makeup: Lauretta Orji