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Teju Cole. Image source: unknown.

From 2-4 November, Teju Cole will be holding the first live performance of his photography in New York City, as part of a series organised by Performa which will run from 1-19 November. Titled Black Paper, the exhibition will see him projecting “shifting photographs and videos on large scrims, accompanied by field recordings and text that he will perform live.”

Founded in 2004 by art historian and curator RoseLee Goldberg, Performa is “dedicated to exploring the critical role of live performance in the history of twentieth-century art and to encouraging new directions in performance for the twenty-first century.” For the present edition, Performa’s seventh, the organizers are interested in, among other things, “the use of live performance as central to artistic practice in African art and culture, the intersection of architecture and performance, and the hundred-year legacy of Dada.”

Here is the announcement.

Teju Cole delivers a powerful immersive experience within a continuously evolving exhibition of his own photographs and videos, accompanied by a score of field recordings and incisive texts, all presented harmoniously as one artwork. The mosaic presentation is an intuitional multimedia response to the 2016 elections, addressing deeply buried emotions, haunted spaces, dreams and premonitions, and shadows and darkness.

The Nigerian-American artist and writer’s essay collection, Known and Strange Things, 2016, is the only book to have been shortlisted for two PEN Awards in the same year, and was named a book of the year by the Guardian, the Financial Times, and Time.

His photographs have been exhibited and published worldwide, including a solo exhibition at Fondazione Forma per la fotografia in Milan in 2016 and at Steven Kasher Gallery in New York in 2017, accompanied by his most recent book, Blind Spot, a genre-crossing work of photography and texts. He writes the monthly column “On Photography” for the New York Times Magazine. In 2016, the column was a finalist for a National Magazine Award.

Here is Teju Cole’s schedule.

Dates:

Nov. 2: 

Venue:

BKLYN Studio at City Point, 445 Albee Square West, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Ticket:

$25, $15

“Struck by his work’s distinctive voice and approach” and how “his process of photographing is just him walking the streets,” Performa approached Teju Cole and asked him “to think about how viewers might enter that experience with him.” In response, Cole traveled around the country and collected “images about darkness and opacity, including shooting the eclipse,” convinced “by how much more rapidly he could respond to events through performance than through writing a novel.” Ahead of the exhibition tomorrow, Cole has stated:

“Being in front of the public, as a black man who looks a certain way and to whom society responds in a certain way, I think this is quite relevant to the political dimension. I feel like that is here to stay in my work.”

We wish him a rousing reception.

Find out more HERE.

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About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young is a writer, an academic, and Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review ("Mulumba," 2016), Transition ("A Tenderer Blessing," 2015), and in an anthology of the Gerald Kraak Award ("You Sing of a Longing," 2017), for which he was shortlisted. His work has further been shortlisted for the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship in 2016 and a Pushcart Prize in 2015. His conversations appear in Africa in Dialogue, Bakwa, SPRINNG, and Dwartonline. He is the curator of the Art Naija Series, a sequence of themed e-anthologies of writing and visual art exploring different aspects of Nigerianness. The first, Enter Naija: The Book of Places (October 2016), focuses on Nigerian cities. The second, Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (June 2017), focuses on professions in Nigeria. He studied history and literature at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is currently completing a postgraduate programme in African Studies, and teaches English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. When bored, he just Googles Rihanna.

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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