I'm excited to introduce you to North Star, my most ambitious undertaking yet! North Star interrupts and reimagines the narrative of the Black body in Western art history and contemporary art. By freeing the Black body of gravity it hopes to separate the body from the weight of terrestrial oppression. As a video, North Star will feature the reactions of Black participants as they experience weightlessness for the first time. To produce this project, I'll be taking 10 participants on parabolic flights to film. The planes will climb and free fall from a high altitude, creating a temporary zero-gravity environment. I need your support to help me make this happen!
Why This Project is Important
There is a noticeable absence of Black Rhapsody within Western art histories and cultural institutions – a vacancy that is deliberate and part of a legacy that subverts the expression and resonance of Black Rhapsody globally. The Black body is too often saddled as a station of trauma and violence, making rhapsody an anomaly, happening in spite of this assumed “inherent state” of the Black body. Within this model, the perpetual gravity of white supremacy and oppression is implicitly understood as the necessary conceit for fleeting moments of joy – of lift-off – before a return to the assumed state of normalcy.
North Star asks: What does the Black body, devoid of the “inescapable” gravity of oppression, look like? What is the Black body in zero gravity?
North Star will be a video installation that engages refraction as a strategy for resistance. This work looks to re-contextualize the site of Blackness and Black bodies and will feature people from across the African diaspora floating nude and unencumbered in a zero-gravity environment. Their reactions and expressions will be captured via high-speed camera. The figures will bloom and recede into one another through prismatic refraction. North Star intersects with Fluxus and Afro-Futurist movements, and with space exploration in post-colonial Africa.
As an artist who engages with socially critical content, I deeply believe that artists have the ability to push societal conversations forward, offering new ways of seeing and experiencing that can produce positive cultural change. Battling white supremacy and oppression requires unity and community and importantly a challenge to the structures that allow it to persist. North Star will offer a new language, a new way of seeing Black bodies and, most importantly, a real way of experiencing Black bodies that will contribute to a building movement of work that stands to re-contextualize and re-claim the Black experience and, in doing so, begin to enable lasting change.
In July, I was invited to be part of the inaugural group of fellows at Kehinde Wiley's Black Rock Senegal residency, where I'll be developing this project over the fall and winter. Thank you for your support!
About the Artist
Kambui Olujimi was born and raised in Bedford-Stuyvesant Brooklyn and received his MFA from Columbia University in New York City. Olujimi’s work challenges established modes of thinking that commonly function as “inevitabilities.” This pursuit takes shape through interdisciplinary bodies of work spanning sculpture, installation, photography, writing, video and performance. His solo exhibitions include: Zulu Time at Madison Museum of Contemporary Art; A Life in Pictures at MIT List Visual Arts Center; Solastalgia at Cue Arts Foundation; and Wayward North at Art in General. His works have premiered nationally at The Sundance Film Festival, Studio Museum in Harlem, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and Mass MoCA. Internationally his work has been featured at The Jim Thompson Art Center in Bangkok; Museo Nacional Reina Sofia in Madrid; Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Finland and Para Site in Hong Kong among others.
Olujimi has been awarded residencies from Black Rock Senegal, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, and MacDowell Colony. He has received grants and commissions from numerous institutions including The Jerome Foundation, NFYA/NYSCA Fellowship, and MTA Arts & Design. His work has been featured in news media and periodicals such as The New Yorker, Art Forum, Art in America, Brooklyn Rail, CNN, PBS, and The New York Times. Monographs on his past project include Zulu Time (2017), Wayward North (2012), The Lost Rivers Index (2007), Walk the Plank (2006), and Winter in America (in collaboration with Hank Willis Thomas, 2006).
What Will Your Contribution Support
Kickstarter funders will help to underwrite camera and lighting cost, production crew, participant fees, post-production, and help offset the cost of the parabolic flights,
Risks and challenges
The challenges of filming in the extreme environments of zero gravity and 2g will be addressed through both research and training for the film crew.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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