Now Film/Video | Contemporary Screen

jaamil olawale kosoko and Ima Iduozee

Chameleon (A Visual Album) (2022)

Artist Residency | Award Winning Project

Five figures, each of whom are draped in brown fabric, sit on a brown couch. The person in the center is draped in transparent brown fabric, revealing their face and dark brown skin. Their hands, which are uncovered, rest on their legs, and there are many shiny bracelets on both wrists. Above the figures, on the wall behind them, are two portraits of Black people, both of whom have flowers and leaves surrounding their heads like hair.

Wexner Center Artist Residency Award–recipient jaamil olawale kosoko and collaborator Ima Iduozee reimagine the Black body as a spiritual site in Chameleon (A Visual Album), made with support from the center’s Film/Video Studio.

A 2022 Slamdance Award winner for Best Experimental Short, Chameleon asserts the Black body’s ability to conjure environments of unexpected, dynamic, and emotional complexity. A performance film adaptation of a live work that never happened, the project explores the fugitive realities and shapeshifting demands of surviving at the intersection of Blackness, gender fluidity, and queerness in contemporary America.

Composed of five choreo-poems, the film draws from the term “biomythography” coined by Audre Lorde to describe her 1982 novel Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, which combines history, biography, and myth—and offers a model for narratives rooted in queer, Black, feminist imagination. Each of kosoko’s five autobiographical poems ("Linoleum,” “Stank,” “Entertainer,” “Wake,” and “Effigy”) act as distinct chapters, depicting and rewriting moments from the protagonist’s lived experience. Throughout the film, kosoko’s body responds to memory, moving in and out of dream states, nightmares, present practice, and ceremony. The process, a conjuring, allows past ghosts to exist alongside present reconfigurations, underscoring the creative, therapeutic, and painful—but sometimes necessary—impulses of fugitive beings to shapeshift in order to survive.

Chameleon (A Visual Album) features sound composition by Everett-Asis Saunders and original poems written by jaamil olawale kosoko. The work was made with the support of an Artist Residency Award in performing arts and is presented as part of the kosoko-curated interdisciplinary exhibition Portal For(e) the Ephemeral Passage. (HD video, 21:15 mins.) Click here for a complete lineup.

Five figures, each of whom are draped in brown fabric, sit on a brown couch. The person in the center is draped in transparent brown fabric, revealing their face and dark brown skin. Their hands, which are uncovered, rest on their legs, and there are many shiny bracelets on both wrists. Above the figures, on the wall behind them, are two portraits of Black people, both of whom have flowers and leaves surrounding their heads like hair.

Chameleon (A Visual Album), image courtesy of the artists.

jaamil olawale kosoko lying on their side, their right hand propping up their head from the hardwood floor. Their face and bare chest are visible through the television on the floor in front of them. They have short, dark hair combed to the side and are wearing large, squared glasses, silver bracelets, and a chain that goes from their left ear to the waistband of their black underwear. Behind them are two brown love seats, windows with dark brown curtains, and a bedazzled gas mask on the side table.

Chameleon (A Visual Album), image courtesy of the artists.

The bare backside of a Black person, who is holding transparent brown fabric, with the words “BLACK POWER” written in black against a sparkly gold background painted on the person’s bottom.

Chameleon (A Visual Album), image courtesy of the artists.

jaamil olawale kosoko standing against a background of pink, shimmery fabric. They have a black blindfold covering their eyes and are wearing a gold chainmail headpiece; a wide, gold metal necklace with light-and-dark beads hanging from it; a brown satin glove and gold, coiled arm band on one arm and a golden cuff on the other, and goldish brown fabric draped over their shoulders and stomach. They are holding a silver, sequenced object that resembles a gun in one hand and a golden-brown jewel in the other.

Chameleon (A Visual Album), image courtesy of the artists.

Chameleon (A Visual Album) was made with the support of a residency in the Wexner Center’s Film/Video Studio and a Wexner Center Artist Residency Award in performing arts.

FILM/VIDEO PROGRAMS MADE POSSIBLE BY
Cardinal Health
Kaufman Development

ADDITIONAL SUPPORT PROVIDED BY
Rohauer Collection Foundation

FILM/VIDEO STUDIO SUPPORTED IN PART BY
National Endowment for the Arts

PERFORMING ARTS PROGRAMS MADE POSSIBLE BY
National Endowment for the Arts

WEXNER CENTER PROGRAMS MADE POSSIBLE BY
The Wexner Family
Greater Columbus Arts Council
The Columbus Foundation
National Endowment for the Arts
Ohio Arts Council
American Electric Power Foundation
L Brands Foundation
Adam Flatto
Mary and C. Robert Kidder
Bill and Sheila Lambert
Institute of Museum and Library Services
Nationwide Foundation
Vorys, Sater, Seymour, and Pease

ADDITIONAL SUPPORT PROVIDED BY
Mike and Paige Crane
Pete Scantland
Axium Packaging
CampusParc
CoverMyMeds
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
President Kristina M. Johnson and Mrs. Veronica Meinhard
Nancy Kramer
Huntington
Lisa Barton
Johanna DeStefano
Russell and Joyce Gertmenian
Liza Kessler and Greg Henchel
Ron and Ann Pizzuti
Joyce and Chuck Shenk
Bruce and Joy Soll
Jones Day

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jaamil olawale kosoko and Ima Iduozee