In Your Absence the Skies Are All the Same
In Your Absence the Skies Are All the Same combines footage of skies from around the world, morphed into a central, slow moving, kaleidoscopic image. To create the work, artist Kambui Olujimi collected over 40 views of the sky, shot at different times of day under a variety of weather conditions in various locations, including New York, Cuba, California, and Detroit. Referencing a universal longing for human connection amidst distance and infinitely shifting possibilities, quadrisected skies slowly fold into one another to create an other-worldly dusk. Illuminating the screens of Times Square every midnight in September, In Your Absence the Skies Are All the Same speaks to the evolving nature of the current social and political moment with a sense of collective transformation and notions of interdependence across time and place.
“Hopefully, this work can serve as a pause or space for reflection within the whirlwind that is our current moment. It is an offering, a deviation, or potential recalibration of our baselines. As a kid growing up in New York, Times Square was a chaotic monster. There were huge kinetic sculptures, porn theatres, comic book stores, and a giant arcade. As a young adult, I always found that chaos calming and often wrote there under the lights."
— Kambui Olujimi.
For audiences at home and under skies beyond New York, the work will also stream online for the month of September, set to a mash-up of the song “I'm Gonna Make You Love Me” — the classic originally made famous by Dee Dee Warwick and later recorded by The Temptations and The Supremes. Combined with this audio, In Your Absence the Skies Are All the Same deepens its meditative investigation of longing and invites reflection on conventional notions of love.
In Your Absence the Skies Are All the Same is presented in partnership with Project for Empty Space. Originally presented as a large-scale installation at The Brooklyn Museum in 2013, In Your Absence the Skies Are All the Same has also been exhibited at Mass MoCA in North Adams, MA. A related public artwork, Where the Sky Begins (2018), is permanently installed through the MTA Arts & Design at Avenue I station on the F Train in Brooklyn.
Also in September, Project for Empty Space (PES) will present WALK WITH ME, a collection of more than 200 ink works on paper by Olujimi, all derived from a single photograph taken in the late 1950s of Ms. Catherine Arline, who was the artist's longtime mentor, friend, and guardian angel. This solo exhibition will christen PES’s new home in Downtown Newark and will be presented in celebration of the organization’s 10-year anniversary, from September 12, 2020 to January 4, 2021 by reservation only.
Kambui Olujimi was born and raised in Bedford-Stuyvesant Brooklyn and received his MFA from Columbia University in New York City. Olujimi’s work challenges established modes of thinking that commonly function as “inevitabilities.” This pursuit takes shape through interdisciplinary bodies of work spanning sculpture, installation, photography, writing, video and performance. His solo exhibitions include: Zulu Time at Madison Museum of Contemporary Art; A Life in Pictures at MIT List Visual Arts Center; Solastalgia at Cue Arts Foundation; and Wayward North at Art in General. His works have premiered nationally at The Sundance Film Festival, Studio Museum in Harlem, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and Mass MoCA. Internationally his work has been featured at The Jim Thompson Art Center in Bangkok; Museo Nacional Reina Sofia in Madrid; Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Finland and Para Site in Hong Kong among others.
Olujimi has been awarded residencies from Black Rock Senegal, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, and MacDowell Colony. He has received grants and commissions from numerous institutions including The Jerome Foundation, NFYA/NYSCA Fellowship, and MTA Arts & Design. His work has been featured in news media and periodicals such as The New Yorker, Art Forum, Art in America, Brooklyn Rail, CNN, PBS, and The New York Times. Monographs on his past project include Zulu Time (2017), Wayward North (2012), The Lost Rivers Index (2007), Walk the Plank (2006), and Winter in America (in collaboration with Hank Willis Thomas, 2006).
Project for Empty Space is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating safe and equitable spaces for audiences and artists alike. PES is committed to cultivating discourse around important social issues through the catalytic lens of contemporary art. Our mission is to promote artists whose work is oriented around social impact; and to initiate conversations that engage issues of marginality, intersectionality, and cultural tolerance. Through our work we strive to create exhibitions and programming in our spaces that dispel the notion that art is meant for one type of audience. Our aim is to encourage the idea that everyone should have equal opportunity to access art.