(b. 1990, Brooklyn; living and working in Brooklyn)
Multimedia artist RaFia Santana uses animated graphics, self-portraiture, and music production to soothe the self, bend perception, and make jokes. Their work mines the humor, sensory overload, and hyper-productivity of Internet culture to comment on issues ranging from gentrification to racism to mental illness, with a particular interest in combating capitalist expectations. They work as chief of digital imaging with the Marilyn Nance Archives. Santana received a BFA in Photography from SUNY Purchase (2013). Recent exhibitions featuring their work include Beyond the Cloud: Interrogating Digital Technologies (The Latinx Project, New York, 2023), Mutant Dust Bunnies (Roots & Culture, Chicago, 2019), Dizzillusions (Times Square Arts Midnight Moment, New York, 2019), and Black Portraitures IV: The Color of Silence (Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, 2018). They completed a commissioned song for podcast TV, I Say, with Ashley Ray (2020).
WORK IN THE EXHIBITION
Reflecting their sensibilities as a digital artist, RaFia Santana’s Need Money Now uses frank directness both as a tool of humor and social justice advocacy. In their music video, RaFia’s eye-catching pink outfit and cat accessories, and their catchy musical recounting of fiscal struggles, from dental bills to college loans, speak to shared humor and social concerns. Leveraging their social media presence, Santana encourages audiences to combat systems of inequity that disproportionately affect Black and Brown people. Through their GIFs designed to accompany the video, Santana draws attention to mutual aid as a solution, introducing their meal distribution system #PAYBLACKTiME and offering audience members the chance to directly participate in wealth redistribution via PayPal. In this way, Santana’s works are in conversation with one another, presenting a humorous auditory call-to-action and direct links to actionably make a difference.