Chameleon: A Biomythography
Artist Jaamil Olawale Kosoko is at EMPAC for the world premiere of Chameleon: A Biomythography. The result of four technical development residencies at EMPAC, Chameleon is a multimedia live artwork that explores: “the fugitive realities and shapeshifting demands of surviving at the intersection of Blackness, gender fluidity, and queerness in contemporary America.” In this new work, the stage is saturated with melanated tones and pigments—intensified by Africanist texts and iconography from Luther Vandross to Audre Lorde’s Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, where the term “biomythography” originates.
The stage becomes a site of ecstatic spiritual fantasy in which grief is punctuated by moments of beauty, care, and pleasure. The setting features live and recorded performers who embody, film, document, and re-embody sources of curated archival imagery. Drawing from an ongoing fascination with Black diasporic spiritual practice and by what the artist calls “erotic digitality,” Kosoko uses the apparatus of the theater to conjure an environment of disarming emotional complexity.
As a complement to the live work, you can now listen to Kosoko’s American Chameleon podcast on Spotify.
Dates + Tickets
EMPAC Spring 2020
Chameleon: A Biomythography is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation & Development Fund Project co-commissioned by EMPAC / Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY; the New York Live Arts Live Feed Residency program; and the Wexner Center for the Arts at Ohio State University, in partnership with Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA), Tanz im August/HAU Hebbel am Ufer, and NPN. New York Live Arts’ Live Feed Residency program is made possible with additional support from the Joseph and Joan Cullman Foundation for the Arts, the Mertz Gilmore Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council with special thanks to Council Member Corey Johnson, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, the Jerome Robbins Foundation, the Fan Fox & Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, the Scherman Foundation, and the Shubert Foundation. Chameleon is also made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Additional development support was provided by Bates Dance Festival, Gibney DiP, pOndersoa, D.O.C.H., Within Practice (Stockholm), the Centre for the Less Good Idea (Johannesburg, South Africa), PassaPorta International House of Literature (Brussels), Studio 303 (Montreal), the National Center for Choreography (Akron, OH), and Red Bull Arts Detroit.
Former iterations of Chameleon: A Biomythography held various titles including Chameleon (The Troy Installments) and the hold.
EMPAC Spring 2020 presentations, residencies, and commissions are made possible by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts; New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts; and Vlaamse Gemeenschap, department of Culture, Youth, and Media.