Black Male Revisited to make its world premier in South FL

Nigerian uses multi-media to reconsider impressions of the black male body

D. Kevin McNeir | 12/17/2013, 1:47 p.m.
When conversation moves to the Black male body, the dialogue rarely evokes positive images worthy of celebration. Instead, what we ...
Jaamil Olawale Kosoko Photo by Umi Akiyoshi HRF

When conversation moves to the Black male body, the dialogue rarely evokes positive images worthy of celebration. Instead, what we more often find throughout society, particularly in the U.S., are views that criminalize, demonize and sexualize the Black male body. It is this distorted reality that moved Detroit-born, Nigerian-American Jaamil Olawale Kosoko to develop his part installation, part live performance spectacle, Black Male Revisited — a one-man show that is coming to South Florida.

The original work makes its world premier on Friday, Dec. 13th at the Miami Theater Center [MTC] black box studio in Miami Shores [9806 NE 2nd Ave.].

Kosoko, now living in New York City, brings visual representations, original poetry, live music, dance and theatrical antics to a performance that he says collapses the boundaries between fiction and reality and is so raw that audiences won’t know whether to “laugh, cry, yell obscenities or run for cover.”

“This project began three ago when I was a student at Wesleyan — it was my final thesis and this is the realization of that work,” Kosoko said. “Am I excited?

You bet, because I’ve been able to take a scholastic idea and develop it into a live performance. I am a student of dance and theater but neither was truly my home. In my research I found that I connected best with those who were interested in visual performance — I think because of its realism and its complexities.”

Inspired by contemporary art

Kosoko’s “Black Male Revisited” is supported by movement/performance consultant Sandra Bell, dramaturg Kate Watson-Wallace and studio assistant Aaron Maier. But he was able to bring it to stage because of a $100,000 Knights Art Challenge grant. He recalls going to the Whitney Museum of American Art exhibit “Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary Art” years ago which would inspire him to one day create his show.

“What audiences will see is my attempt to begin a dialogue about issues of visibility for Black male performance and visual arts, using my body, my history and work as the focal point to discuss themes of Black masculinity from a first person perspective.

I was 11 when I saw the exhibit back in 1994. In those days I was dealing with images of Black men, like my own uncle, dying of AIDS, the Rodney King case had just been settled and then there was the Million Man March.

Those and other events were essential in shaping concepts of Black masculinity in that era. All of the worlds that matter to me — visual, poetry, dance, music — all collide in my performance piece.”

Black Male Revisited runs through Dec. 22 with group and student rates available. For information go to www.mtcmiami.org.