by Chérmelle D. Edwards
“I feel ya,” a new exhibition with Savannah College of and Art Design (SCAD) and André 3000 Benjamin, made its Art Basel Miami debut exploring the intersection of three artistic disciplines: fashion, film and art within a digital-realism context. Using 47 jumpsuits worn by Benjamin during the OutKast 20th anniversary tour, the rapper’s words are a visual palette by which SCAD alumni filmmaker Greg Brunkalla and painter Jimmy O’Neal create the film “Trumpets,” a collaborative conversation that attempts to find balance in a world driven by digital engagement.
I communicate through music and suits… I wanted people to read the suits and say, “Yeah, I feel that.”
“I communicate through music and suits. This was about the connection of what I was saying. I wanted people to read the suits and say, ‘Yeah, I feel that.’ If what I’m saying, someone connects to that, then that’s the ultimate,” Benjamin says. His phrases, which were compiled from his own stream of consciousness and song lyrics, are intended to be a connection tool inciting a response. So when Brunkalla created his film in the same spirit of expression, it furthers the visual trope of the physical jumpsuits.
Using two film projectors, Brunkalla says, “I got to take a six month time period and put it into one room.” Viewers can watch Benjamin’s phrases and questions such as “God. Or God?” and “Life is short, take more baths,” and “big girls are beautiful to me,” be randomly superimposed upon subjects while coupled with original music scored by Brunkalla. “The film is based off the jumpsuits, it’s a conversation of different pieces and I hope you watch the film and never see the same thing twice,” said Brunkalla. In regard to collaborating and creating the looping of visual rhetoric in the exhibition, painter Jimmy O’Neal, known for creating life-size iconic images, said, “You gotta’ trust the magic.”
As viewers stand in the exhibition room, Benjamin, Brunkalla and O’Neal allow their conversation pieces to be a tool for connection and sharing which underscores the missive of art; “art is art once it is shared,” said SCAD President Paula Wallace. “I just want you to see it. It’s like the title, ‘I feel ya,’ it’s a connection thing and I want people to do that.”
Images courtesy of SCAD Museum of Art