Multi-media artist and polymath RaFia’s practice centers on self-portraiture through the lens of gentrification, millennial issues, mental illness, racism, and sensory overload. With surrealist distortions, hypnotic animations, and bass-heavy music production, RaFia seeks to both soothe and alert the viewer to a new reality.
Dizzillusions (2018) is a self-portrait, digitally painted and animated in a looping video. The artist’s head floats against a background of psychedelic waves and vibrating, color-shifting shapes. In the context of Times Square, Dizzillusions speaks to the experience of sensorial abundance living in the city.
“Times Square is an overwhelming venue for many people, with so many lights, hustlers, and electronic ad spaces vying for human attention. Dizzillusions is a representation of that experience. With my work, I provide a stimulating respite for those struggling with the normalization of hyper-productivity and the exhausting capitalization of distraction.”
RaFia Santana (born 1990, Brooklyn, NY) is a Brooklyn-based multimedia artist using animated graphics, self-portraiture, and music production to soothe the self, bend perception, and make jokes. They also make use of social marketing and fundraising as a means to support and uplift marginalized communities. RaFia has exhibited their work at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, MoCADA, Tate Britain, the Museum of the Moving Image, Housing NY, BronxArtSpace, and more. They have been featured in Teen Vogue, Paper Magazine, VICE, Topical Cream Magazine, and other leading publications. RaFia has performed and participated in panels, discussions, and events at Black Portraitures at Harvard University, Afrotectopia at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, Pratt Institute's Department of Digital Arts, Newspace Center for Photography, and MoMA PS1.
Photos courtesy of Ka-Man Tse for Times Square Arts.