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MMoCA Announces Kambui Olujimi: Zulu Time
MMoCA Announces Kambui Olujimi: Zulu Time
May 6–August 13
Opening Reception, June 2, 2017 • 6–9 pm
MADISON–The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art is honored to present a solo exhibition of new work by Kambui Olujimi, a New York-based artist whose multi-disciplinary practice calls attention to the assumptions that underlie our understanding of the world at large. In Kambui Olujimi: Zulu Time, the artist explores, among other concerns, the interlocking systems of power and entrenched hierarchies that impact our daily lives. Mobilizing a broad range of artistic mediums and approaches, from glass blowing to wheat pasting, Olujimi paves the way for us to engage in an open dialogue about how we see and experience the world and each other.
Kambui Olujimi: Zulu Time opens to the public on Friday evening, May 5, and will be on view in MMoCA’s State Street Gallery through August 13. Olujimi will discuss his work on Friday, June 2 at 6:30 pm, in conjunction with the MMoCA Opening for the exhibition.
“Kambui is an exceedingly dynamic artist, and we are excited for the opportunity to introduce his deeply layered work to the Madison community,” stated Leah Kolb, MMoCA associate curator. “He approaches the world and its embedded inequities with a curiosity and poeticism that translate into deeply moving works of art.”
Time itself manifests as the most invisible yet pervasive force in this exhibition, as implied by the show’s title. “Zulu time” is the short-hand term for the world’s standardized mode of tracking time. Specifically, it references the time at the prime meridian (longitude 0 degrees)—the invisible and ultimately arbitrary line from which all global time zones are calculated. Since Great Britain was the world’s foremost maritime power when the concept of latitude and longitude originated, the starting point for designating longitude is based on the location of the British Naval Observatory in Greenwich, England. Thus, Zulu time literally revolves around Western norms for structuring a day. Olujimi reframes the notion ofuniversal time as an intangible yet ever-present expression of dominance and an imposition of control—a residue of Empire.
Throughout the exhibition, Olujimi continues to reference the idea of time as a means to investigate invisible hierarchies that benefit some groups of people while disregarding and disadvantaging others. He does so by taking us on a metaphorical journey from the cosmic origins of the universe itself, through the structural failures of modernism’s utopic endeavors, into today’s reckless socio-political climate, and, finally, he projects us into the unknown spaces of tomorrow. Refusing to anchor his work to a specific moment in time, the artist instead questions our notion of time, collapsing past, present, and future.
Olujimi simultaneously demonstrates how social, political, and economic injustices donot exist on a single plane with one-point perspective, but within multiple contexts and facets that interact and interconnect, positioned on top of and within each other; some visible, some distorted, and some beyond sight.
Kambui Olujimi: Zulu Time will be accompanied by a fully illustrated exhibition catalogue with essays by Sampada Aranke, Gregory Volk, and Leah Kolb, and designed by Melissa Gorman. A permanent document of the exhibition, this catalogue also contributes critical scholarship to Kambui’s body of work.
Sampada Aranke is an art historian and visual culture scholar who has published extensively on performance theories of embodiment and black cultural and aesthetic theory. In her essay, Aranke discusses how Zulu Time calls attention to the vestiges of colonial practices that continue to structure contemporary life, and, by extension, how Olujimi’s work illuminates “modernism’s role in the consolidation of white supremacy today.” An Assistant Professor in the History and Theory of Contemporary Art at the San Francisco Art Institute, she is currently working on her book manuscript entitled Death’s Futurity: The Visual Culture of Death in Black Radical Politics.
New York-based art critic and freelance curator Gregory Volk discusses the disruptive and transformative power of Olujimi’s work, describing how the artist imbues familiar objects with surprising new life through a process that entails “an elevation of humble things, a humbling of powerful things.” Volk is Associate Professor in the School of the Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University, and he writes regularly for art journals, including Art in America where he is a contributing editor.
Associate curator at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Leah Kolb has worked closely with Olujimi over the past two years to present this exhibition and catalogue to the public. Her essay considers how the artist plays with notions of visibility as a means to critique underhanded systems of power. She suggests that what is obscured in Olujimi’s work is as important as what is present and tangible by illustrating how the artist parallels his material practice with his conceptual concerns, which hint at “the socio-economic and political infrastructures whose authority relies on the very absence of detectability.”
Generous funding, to date, for Kambui Olujimi: Zulu Time has been provided by The DeAtley Family Foundation; MillerCoors; WhiteFish Partners LLC; a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and National Endowment for the Arts; and MMoCA Volunteers.
Hours at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art are Tuesday–Thursday (noon–5 pm); Friday (noon–8 pm); Saturday (10 am–8 pm); and Sunday (noon–5 pm). The museum is closed on Mondays.
Housed in a soaring, iconic building on State Street, the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art offers free admission to exhibitions and education programs that engage visitors in modern and contemporary art. The four galleries offer changing exhibitions that feature established and emerging artists. The Rooftop Sculpture Garden provides an urban oasis with an incredible view. The award-winning Museum Store offers contemporary American craft and fine jewelry, while Fresco, the museum’s rooftop restaurant, features local, seasonal ingredients in fine American cuisine.
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