Monday, March 07, 2011


from Cauleen Smith's PROGRAM NOTES: GLOSSOLALIA 5.0 @ The Kitchen

SEE full program notes here.

My Father and I Dance In Outer Space (2011)

First Encounter: Sixteen years ago in West Oakland On the set of Drylongso. Subsequent Viewing Pattern: I am compelled to screen an Ogunji video every seven months or so.

With My Father and I Dance In Outer Space, Wura-Natasha Ogunji has deepened and refined her endurance performance videos by stripping away everything that we don’t need, and providing us with everything we do need to feel unstable, uncertain, enthralled, and undone. The spirit dancer presents herself, and then proceeds to make a barren landscape with her footprints, moisten it with her sweat and breath. Based on my experience with the Malibu State Park Rangers, the intensity of the Ogunji Spirit’s sustained levitations will certainly aerate that yellow soil. If we return to this site in one month’s time, the Ogunji Figure may not be there, but I am certain, that scented chaparral shrubs, and desert cacti will. Rather than frame and validate the video’s signifiers enjoying direct linkage to Yoruban ritual and Ogunji’s heritage, the artist opens the video to grander possibilities and indeed extends her speculations beyond terrestrial identity into the speculative realm of the cosmological. The discomfort we feel as we sympathetically ache with the strain of Ogunji’s gorgeously choreographed performance is diminished by her application of distance and time. The figure’s placement in the landscape tells us one ting about this gesture while the sky above her tells us another all together. Long Memory. Clouds sweep over Ogunji faster than we can comprehend just as my Malibu clouds confounded my aperture many times over the course of an afternoon of building an inverted maypole and tearing it apart. The Ogunji Spirit is a regenerative force that finally stops because the work is done, not because its powers are exhausted. Just as I was happy to have Wura on my set building the delicate readymades that grace the finale of Drylongso, I am happy to have her videos with me now: Ogunji’s work never fails celebrate and test the confounding tension between the quotidian and the magical.