Dance and the Museum: Jaamil Olawale Kosoko Responds

Kosoko Photo by Katie Kischer

1) What are the most potent questions/ ideas prompted by the recent coming together of dance and the visual arts?

I hear artists asking questions about how their work can read as cinematic, how various kinds of relational experiences can co-exist between genres, what is the relationship between identity and abstraction and form, among many others …. I think there is a sincere need (especially for younger artists) to dismantle and disrupt the previously strict notions of dance as only being choreographic or rooted in choreological concerns.  I think many artists want to de-ghettoize the form.  None of these ideas are particularly new questions or concerns. They are more generational and resurface in waves. I’m most curious about the kinds of structures/platforms/institutions/curators who are able, willing, and resourceful enough to support these mixed-genre art practices.

2) What are the responsibilities and/ or challenges that accompany this interaction? For artists? Curators? Critics or scholars? Institutions?

To remain open, fluid, and willing to take risks that might not be financially strategic is both a responsibility and challenge. I’m currently collaborating with a series of scholars and curators on my BLACK MALE REVISITED project.  I’m curious as to how a project can move and mutate as it tours between various geographies and institutions and audiences.  There is also a need to combat genre segregation, cultural amnesia, the invisibility complex, and flawed popular representations of minority groups. There’s a shape shifting kind of experience I’m in the process of tracking with this project.

3) As artists, audiences, and institutions with varied artistic backgrounds come together, on what grounds is it or is it not important to consider disciplinary/ generic boundaries?

I suppose institutions may feel the need to represent and protect certain traditional forms so as to make the work marketable to the greater public.  That said, artistic practice is what defines the form. So, institutions must stay in constant dialogue with contemporary art practice which will not always take the shape of easily definable marketable product. It’s important to relate and listen to artists as artists and less as representatives of a specific genre.

4) What might the meeting of dance and visual art at this time herald or reflect? Or, why is this happening now? What possibilities might it open for the future?

I think advancements in new media and communication has drastically changed how artists practice and create. I don’t know what these practices will lead to?  I guess we have to wait for the future to find out.

Jaamil Olawale Kosoko (co-director of anonymous bodies || art collective) is an independent performance curator, producer, poet, and performance artist. He is a 2012 Live Arts Brewery Fellow as a part of the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival, a 2011 Fellow at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and an inaugural graduate member of the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance (ICPP) at Wesleyan University. With his creative partner Kate Watson-Wallace, he co-directs anonymous bodies || art collective, a visual performance company that presents work internationally focusing on site base experimental performance and community building art practices. Most recently Kosoko was a guest performance curator at JACK space as a part of the 2013 Brooklyn International Performance Art Festival and in February 6-8, 2014 he will curate BLACK MALE REVISITED: Experimental Representations Through the Ephemeral Form at Danspace Project.  Visit for more information.

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