Jibade-Khalil Huffman is an American artist, best known for his usage of performance, photography, and video that pushes the capabilities of text and image in order to tell stories and convey meaning. Drawing on his background in poetry, Huffman plays with timing and pacing in his visual work to tease out suspense, tension, expectation, and release. Born in Detroit in 1981, Huffman graduated from Bard College and Brown University, and got his MFA from the University of Southern California.
Using history or certain traditions as a ground from which to deviate, Huffman brings seemingly disparate subjects and objects into association without submitting to the ever-present temptation of over-determining their relationships. His work exists in an instant then disappears, which tend to be paradoxically mysterious, oddly familiar and yet completely unknown. Recognized for his experimentation in style and form, his video installations convey a youthful sense of ‘what it means to be here, now’ – existentially, socially, culturally, and aesthetically, lending to an always-shifting sense of place and memory, an aesthetic of the edit, an element of the absurd, and an appeal for heightened perception.
In his most recent work, Huffman explores both language and image-based structures, colliding poetry with the underlying, pre-ordained structures of cinema, photography, and other mediated forms of communication. Infrastructural systems found in filmmaking, including title sequences, credits and musical cues, are coopted by Huffman as new sites or prompts for a more complicated narrative or aesthetic. The idea of language as something fundamentally manipulable and playfully nonsensical, concerned more with itself than the shadow of its physical referent, also applies to Huffman’s visual sense.
Huffman’s artistic process is exemplified in The Forms of Love, video installation from 2013, in which five slide projectors face the same corner of a room, with their images overlapping. Each projector is set to a different speed and the carousels have no specific starting point, resulting in random combinations of images and signs at an uneven rhythm. As it comes full circle, The Forms of Love disrupts the audience’s expectations of a clear resolution or ending.
His art and writing projects, spanning photography, video, performance and poetry, have been exhibited and performed at MoMA/PS1, Mt. Tremper Arts, Scaramouche, New York, and many more. Huffman is also the author of two books of poems, 19 Names For Our Band and James Brown is Dead, as well as a forthcoming book, Sleeper Hold. His work was recently included in the anthology The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing.
The artist currently lives and works in Los Angeles.