The first section of Staying Afloat depicts the body in control of the jump rope. Then the video stutters, skips, and suddenly it looks like he isn't in control, then it cuts to a close-up of his feet and the viewer can't tell who holds the rope. What's at stake for you in the initial ambiguity?
The day to day of trying to get blood from a rock or making a dollar out of 15 cents is crushing, it distorts you and the air around you. And as much as you walk with the living, every so often a glitch lets the rain in through the hole in your roof. And damn if it ain't cold. And damn if the sky ain't blue.
The white hoodie with a crown, the white leggings, the silver swoosh on gold-painted wood: all these felt like context for the violence you represent in this work. Like signs for the black body's simultaneous achievement and vulnerability. Can you speak to these choices?
Rope! What rope?
You linger in the first half of the video on the feet getting entangled in the rope, or trying to find a position vis-a-vis the rope. Then in the second half the rope is invisible, in motion, all we see is air and feet jerking. Can you talk about why those initial shots of shuffling, awkward motion is important for you?
Wait for that ship you've been waiting for your whole life. A non-stop flight to a planet where you can sleep good, and dream of dreams. Where you ain't asked to form a line face-down in the snow that's always dying under your breath. And as you watch that glimmer in the sky drift back into the blackness that made it, either you will a way to defy gravity and home or you're left looking to the heavens, hoping you don't know what you know.
Kambui Olujimi with NM Llorens
I look to complicate and reconsider established modes of thinking that have morphed into what commonly function as "inevitabilities." This pursuit takes shape through interdisciplinary bodies of work that investigate these phenomena from multiple angles of inquiry. My work manifests collective psychic space as a means of investigating social practices, policies, and exchanges. I am interested in the seamless process of synthesizing invisible constructs into inevitabilities. I excavate the language and aesthetics of social, historical, and cultural conventions and bring them out of the world of the implicit. Once given gravity, weight, and shape it becomes possible to reveal their incongruities and their illusory nature.
Born and raised in Bedford Stuyvesant Brooklyn, Kambui Olujimi received his MFA from Columbia University, NY. He has had solo exhibitions at the MIT List Visual Arts Center, MA; apexart, NY; and Art in General, NY. His works have premiered nationally at The Sundance Film Festival, Park City, Utah; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Studio Museum in Harlem, NY and the Museum of Modern Art, NY. Internationally he has exhibited at The Jim Thompson Art Center, Bangkok, Thailand; Museo Nacional Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain; Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, Finland and Para Site, Hong Kong. Olujimi has been awarded residencies from Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, ME, apexart, NY, The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, NY, and Civitella Ranieri, Italy, and Fountainhead, FL, among others. He has received grants and fellowships from A Blade of Grass, The Jerome Foundation, and The Fine Art Work Center in Provincetown, MA. Numerous periodicals, newspapers and journals have written about Olujimi work including The New Yorker, Art Forum, Art in America, Brooklyn Rail, The New York Times and Modern Painters. Most recently Olujimi has been awarded a Robert Rauschenberg Residency in Captiva Florida.