Jibade-Khalil Huffman’s practice depends on ideas, and the medium is his way of bringing these ideas to life, not the other way around. As a poet and artist, his work exists in between the visual and textual, and utilizes poetry, video, photography, installation, performance and painting. His initial months at The Studio in Harlem allowed him to return to painting, take new photographs and work on a two-channel, seventeen-minute video piece, filming some scenes in Harlem. When asked to narrow down his practice, Huffman told me he would reluctantly choose writing, photography and video. Luckily at the Studio Museum he faces no such circumstances, freely tackling lingering ideas on narrative and audience.
The Bard, Brown and USC alum often explores the notion of narrative, juxtaposing his written or performed poetry with image-based media such as photography and video. My first introduction to Huffman’s work was Lake Overturn (2013), a multipart performance and video piece, a satellite project in conjunction with Pacific Standard Time and Machine Project, in which a location scout for films, Claire Titelman, goes from film site to film site, deterring any sense of place—past, present or future. Effectively colliding voiceover, text, music and image, Huffman complicates the possibility of storytelling and linear narrative. Huffman is particularly interested in exploring video works that take a nonlinear approach to storylines. Huffman also uses photographs to challenge conventional narrativity, such as in Untitled (Facade) (2015), which invites viewers to enter through multiple access points.
Huffman is also interested in getting to know his audiences. With studio visits and open studio events, he has had a chance to have visitors, not just curators and other art world members, comment on his work in real time. These encounters have sparked meaningful conversations about video and performance within art institutions and the general public. Huffman feels he has a part to play in encouraging museumgoers to look longer and engage with video works, much as they might with painting and sculpture, in institutional settings. While Huffman works through his numerous projects and explorations, charging head-on with one medium or another, thoughts of narrative and viewers are swirling through his mind. His residency at the Studio Museum becomes an opportunity for altering notions of storytelling and engaging audiences.
See Jibade-Khalil Huffman's work on view in Tenses: Artists in Residence 2015–16, on view July 14 through October 30, 2016.
—Zuna Maza, Fall 2015 Curatorial Intern