Julianknxx reflects on the themes of Black Corporeal (Breathe) and places it within the context of his upbringing in Sierra Leone and Krio identity.
Interdisciplinary poet, visual artist and filmmaker Julianknxx creates evocative work that combines the written word with imagery and performance. Born in Sierra Leone and now based in London, Julianknxx’s practice drwas inspiration from the stories and languages of his birth place while exploring themes of inheritance, loss, belonging and the collective Black experience.
In Julianknxx’s work Black Corporeal (Breathe) – commissioned by 180 Studios and showing now at LUX: New Wave of Contemporary Art – the artist examines the relationship between materiality and the Black psyche. It explores the idea that our ability to breathe – an act that is challenged by everything from air pollution, stress, anxiety and societal prejudice – is more than our lung’s ability to take in air, but a reflection of the way we live individually and together.
Black Corporeal engages with both the physical and metaphysical aspects of breathing and asks if we can reposition ourselves through the extrinsic, the creation of Black structures and realities that allow us to breathe, freely. The work challenges us to see the simple act of breathing as one of meditation and release, a physical act that is both personal and political, reflexive and intentional.
In this film, Julianknxx reflects on the themes of Black Corporeal (Breathe) and places it within the context of his upbringing in Sierra Leone and Krio identity. “This idea that you’re home but you’re not home, it’s been a constant thing that keeps coming back,” he says.
LUX: New Wave of Contemporary Art is open until December 18 at London’s 180 Studios, 180 The Strand. For opening times and tickets visit 180 The Strand’s website. You can also buy In Praise of Still Boys, the 12″ accompaniment to Julianknxx’s 2020 film of the same name at The Vinyl Factory shop.
Watch next: LUX: Hito Steyerl – This is the Future