Currently at Paula Cooper Gallery’s 529 West 21st Street space in New York is “Zoe Leonard, Kayode Ojo,” curated by Laura Hunt (the fourth in an ongoing series of two-person exhibitions). On view are photographs by both artists, exploring public vs. private perceptions.
Known for his work in sculpture and installation, it is the first time Ojo is showing photography. Whitewall asked the artist about the images he captured in 2016 and 2017, at New York art scene after parties and with his family in Cookeville, TN.
WHITEWALL: This is your first time showing your photos in gallery setting. How do you see photography fitting into your practice?
KAYODE OJO: Since I was a kid, I have always made photographs of my friends and surroundings. I studied photography in college with a focus on formal portraiture. My sculptural work often goes through several stages before reaching a “final” presentation and this process is documented photographically. Much of that work is inspired by found images or experiences that persist in my memory.
WW: In the show are photos taken in 2016 and 2017 at after parties in New York for gallery and museum openings. Why were you interested in taking photos at these events? What did you want to capture?
KO: The act of making the images was compulsive. I just loved doing it. Sometimes over the course of an evening it would become more interesting to experience a situation formally rather than socially. The archival work that comes after (consistent film processing, labeling, organization, preservation) was driven by the feeling that many people around me were reaching the end of an extended adolescence at the same time that there seemed to be less and less worth celebrating.
WW: What discoveries were you able to make with your camera?
KO: Moments that would otherwise be lost in time like tears in rain.
WW: Also on view are photos of your family in Cookeville, TN. What was it like photographing your family? Were they always willing participants?
KO: They knew I was obsessed with photography. It was a brief disruption, they didn’t dwell on it.
WW: Capturing friends and your family—both are pretty personal. Is that a comfortable space for you to work within?
KO: It is possible that I have crossed a line.