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Siddhartha Mitter écrit:

Growing up in Bedford-Stuyvesant in the 1980s, artist Kambui Olujimi had a flourishing childhood in the space of just one block on Quincy Street.

Families shared cultural roots in the south and the Caribbean. The kids played together, using the largest tree on the block as a starting point for pea-and-butter and jelly games. Parents kept an eye on all the children.

Bed-Stuy at the time was a quilt, remembers Mr. Olujimi. Some blocks were abandoned and dangerous. But rue Quincy between avenue Patchen and boulevard Malcolm X was of the other type: animated by family and community life.

“This block was tight,” Olujimi said. “It was a block. »

Mr. Olujimi’s work is eclectic – spanning sculpture, installation, drawing, photography, video – but he often touches on collective memory and how it fades or fades.

For the past six years he has turned that attention to the block that forged him, where he spent most of his childhood and then returned for 20 years of adulthood, until 2015. His homage to the block takes the form of repeated portraits of a single person within it: Catherine Arline, the longtime bloc president universally known as “Ms. Arline ”, who died in 2014 at the age of 77.

“Walk With Me,” his series of 177 ink-on-paper portraits, is now on display at the Project for Empty Space in Newark and in an online tour. Based on a single source image – a photograph of Ms. Arline at age 18 – they are both uniform and infinitely varied.

Jasmine Wahi, co-director of Project for Empty Space, which curated the exhibit with Rebecca Jampol, called the series sort of an alternative monument. “What does creating a monument mean to someone who has such an impact at the micro-community level?” Said Mrs. Wahi. “By examining the multiples of a single person, the series speaks louder than any statue. “

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