“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 (2016)
Multidisciplinary performance artist Jaamil Olawale Kosoko takes on the racialized body, systemic oppression, and personal loss in Séancers, a viscerally intense journey into the black experience.
One of the most interesting figures in performance today, Kosoko has crafted a series of bold, challenging works that incorporate spoken word, original music, ecstatic movement, and provocative costuming to examine how bodies of color are transformed by—and survive—grief, violence, and hypersexualized stereotyping. Several of these works have delved deeply into the deaths of his mother, father, and brother. Their ghosts and others are exorcised here as Kosoko journeys into surreal and fantastical states of the black imagination to interrogate the history of American colonialism and bravely traverse what he describes as the “the fatal axis of abstraction, illegibility and gender complexity.” Special guest séancers will help frame your witnessing of each performance—an engrossing spiritual, emotional, and theoretical world created by Kosoko and sound artist Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste.
More about the artist
Jaamil Olawale Kosoko is a Bessie Award–nominated, Nigerian American performance artist, poet, curator, community organizer, and educator. His performance work has been presented throughout the US and Europe, and his poems, interviews, and essays have appeared in American Poetry Review, Dunes Review, Dance Journal, and Critical Correspondence, among other publications. Kosoko has received a series of fellowships, grants, and awards—in 2017 alone he was a Princeton University Arts Fellow, Jerome Foundation AIRspace Residency artist at Abrons Arts Center, Association of Performing Arts Professionals Leadership Fellow, and Cave Canem Poetry Fellow—and he continues to guest teach, speak, and lecture internationally.
This presentation of Séancers is supported by the Arts Midwest Touring Fund, a program of Arts Midwest that is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional contributions from the Ohio Arts Council and the Crane Group.