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Chameleon
Coming, Spring 2020, Commissioned by New York Live Arts

“Indeed, Blackness provided the occasion for self reflection as well as for an exploration of terror, desire, fear, loathing, and longing.” – Saidiya V. Hartman, Scenes of Subjection

Chameleon is a performance project created by Jaamil Olawale Kosoko that examines the shapeshifting, illegible, and fugitive realities of Black diasporan people. Using live feed and augmented reality media with complexity theory (the study of adaptive survivalist strategies inside complex networks or environments) as a choreographic device, this work explores how minoritarian communities record & affirm their existence through collaborative actions and protests that archive personal freedom narratives as a way to subvert culturally charged fields of systemic oppression, loss, and erasure.

Read more about the project here.

 

Séancers
Premiere: December 2017, Abrons Arts Center

“What does it mean to defend the dead? To tend to the Black dead and dying: to tend to the Black person, to Black people, always living in the push toward our death?” – Christina Sharpe, In the Wake: On Blackness and Being

Setting the fugitive experience afforded Black people on fire with majesty, opulence, and agency, Séancers is an auto-ethnographic performance work that collapses lyrical poetry, psychic movement forms and strategies of discursive performance to investigate concepts of loss, resurrection, and paranormal activity. Interrogating issues related to American history, coloniality, and structural oppression, Séancers journeys into the surreal and fantastical states of a Black imagination as it traverses the ‘fatal’ axis of abstraction, illegibility, identity, and gender complexity. The work locates itself inside the spiritual, emotional, and theoretical world via the live performances of sound artist Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste and experimental artist Jaamil Olawale Kosoko, with special guest theorists who will help frame the witnessing of each performance.

 

White State I Black Mind
Released: May 2017

‘We do know, however, what blackness indicates: existence without standing in the modern world system. To be black is to exist in exchange without being a party to exchange. Being black is belonging to a state organized according to its ignorance of your perspective - a state that does not, that cannot, know your mind.... It is a kind of invisibility.  

—Bryan Wagner, Disturbing the Peace: Black Culture and the Police Power after Slavery

A film collaboration with Marica De Michele tracing the making of Jaamil Olawale Kosoko’s 2015 work #negrophobia. This cinematic glimpse into a singular creative process that attempts to make plain often invisible systems of power, assumptions and cultural categories through abstract, oblique, and alternative readings of society.

The film is in tandem with an ongoing and ever-shifting roundtable discussion event lead by Jaamil Olawale Kosoko. This organized discussion addresses how performance and other forms of creative practice can reimagine or reframe the world. What might queer, oblique and alternative readings of society reveal about the intricacies and multiplicities of Blackness?

 

#negrophobia
Premiere: September 2015, Gibney Dance

#negrophobia examines the erotic fear associated with Black bodies inside the context of the contemporary American project. The work is both performance lecture and rituals séance. Jaamil Olawale Kosoko juxtaposes interior and exterior landscapes to expose a confessional identity-mashup where visual and performance aesthetics collide in a face-off of self-revelation, ecstatic theatricality, and discomfort.

Aggressively multi-disciplinary, the space in which the piece is performed is in many ways an installation piece itself––the audience experiences the work confronted by a shrine to dead black people and the disemboweled library of writings of black intellectuals. Revealing contradictory feelings of desire and fear, #negrophobia references issues related to grief, misogyny, trans identity, and Black patriarchal constructs of masculinity. Together with model and performance artist IMMA, and composer Jeremy Toussaint Baptiste, Kosoko presents the audience with powerfully staged bodies, forcing them to contemplate how they might also be involved in the construction of forms of racism.