In 2017, the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Philadelphia commissioned a new lecture performance by Jibade-Khalil Huffman called Defending Kanye West. With two projectors and a microphone, the artist mounted a personal and ideological critique of West against the backdrop of a rapidly changing social media landscape. The piece was intended to iterate and evolve, much like the rapper/producer’s Life of Pablo (2016–ongoing), an album that refutes the presumptive rule that a work is finished—or free—once released.
Confessional Poetry builds on Defending Kanye West by abandoning the original title and structure, instead wrapping a new text around it as preface, coda, and extended footnote. Presented in San Francisco for the first and possibly only time, the lecture performance actively implicates trolling, black ego, mental health, hip-hop, and poetry. It explores the things we have in common and the things we don’t, both as an audience—active, passive, and often in the dark—and through the disembodied lens of mass media.
Interdisciplinary artist Jibade-Khalil Huffman builds on a foundation rooted in poetry, synthesizing traditional and contemporary linguistic forms into a practice that employs multimedia platforms including videos, photographs, performances, and text-based works.