A shirtless Black man giving a guttural cry with his head covered in brown silk sheets. Images of ancestors projected behind him in a room washed in red light.

This Artist Proposes a Community Space ‘to Dream, to Imagine’

The poet and performance artist Jaamil Olawale Kosoko has reimagined his work “Chameleon” as a daylong virtual experience, “a global gesture in listening.”
News Type
Press Mention

Since New York theaters shut down in mid-March, creators of live performance have been quick to adjust: improvising on Instagram, reimagining dances for Zoom, uploading their archives to Vimeo.

The poet and performance artist Jaamil Olawale Kosoko was well equipped to adapt when he learned that his latest work, Chameleon: A Biomythography, would not go on as scheduled at New York Live Arts this month. As its title suggests, “Chameleon” is mutable, the result of Mr. Kosoko’s exploration, over the past few years, of what he calls “adaptive strategies and ways of being in the world.” On April 22, Earth Day, it will take a much different shape than originally planned, re-envisioned as a daylong virtual experience, Chameleon: The Living Installments.

A meditation on black queer life in the United States, dealing with themes of healing and survival, the work evolved along with Mr. Kosoko’s increasingly international career, which, from his home base in Brooklyn, has recently taken him to Germany, South Africa, Sweden and England for residencies and teaching engagements. Like many of his projects, this one channels the ideas of writers and artists he calls his queer ancestors, in particular the poet Audre Lorde.

Main Image: Jaamil Olawale Kosoko in residence in 2019 during the production of co-commission Chameleon: A Biomythography (2020). Photo: Sara Griffith / EMPAC.

A screenshot of a New York Times article, Change of Plans for this Chameleon.