Sean Kelly


18 - 22 Mar 2014

Humble in the Jungle, 2012/2014.
© MeLo-X, Courtesy Sean Kelly, New York.
A Movement in Africa
18 - 22 March 2014

Sean Kelly announces A Movement in Africa, an exhibition of new work by MeLo-X. The artist reception will take place on Thursday, March 20 from 6 until 8pm.

MeLo-X is a multimedia artist based in New York City. From the beginning of his professional career eight years ago, MeLo’s work has included many unique projects, seamlessly blending the worlds of art, music, fashion and design. This multidisciplinary approach to his creative practice came out of necessity. At a young age MeLo would record his own music, compose photographs, design album covers and build websites. Not being able to afford the top of the line equipment and programs of the day, MeLo turned to dated music gear, vintage film cameras and obsolete computer programs to support his artistic approach. This allowed him to experiment with the way his art was viewed and received by a young, new media generation. He quickly gained a following of both ardent fans and fellow innovators.

MeLo-X studied at The Institute of Audio Research and has worked closely with many new media and contemporary artists in New York City. MeLo's live performances are often a blend of modern art collaborations, impromptu live musical remixes, sound design and electronic production. This mixture of studied technique, experimental expression and a DIY mindset allows MeLo's work to stand out as that of a Renaissance man pushing boundaries.

In 2012 MeLo journeyed to Equatorial Guinea with a group of close friends and artistic collaborators. A Movement in Africa documents this group of prominent cultural figures traveling to a place that, until this trip, had only inspired their creativity from afar. MeLo photographed these moments using 35mm film, giving the images a vintage quality, in direct juxtaposition to their contemporary subject matter. The emotion, adventure and lessons learned during the group’s first trip to Africa were captured in the resulting photographs and video that comprise A Movement in Africa.

The works in the exhibition at Sean Kelly gallery tell the visual story of a return to Africa by a unique group of individuals: Jesse Boykins III, Trae Harris, Mara Hruby, Kwasi Kessie, Moruf, GFC Saint, Kenji Summers, Jarrett Woo, Street Etiquette (Travis Gumbs and Joshua Kissi) and MeLo himself. MeLo’s images of the trip include the group being greeted by children in traditional Equatorial Guinean garb at the airport, visiting the jungle on the islands off the coast of Sipopo Beach, spending time in the capital, Malabo, experiencing the inherent paradox of the city's wealthy suburbs and visiting the local orphanage Nuestra Señora de la Almudena. A particularly poignant moment of the trip was when the group visited the Slave Cave in the port of Malabo, which was the last place slaves were harbored before boarding European vessels during the Atlantic slave trade. MeLo captures this moment in a photograph of a group prayer filled with emotion and tears, titled The Prayer to our Ancestors.

The trip was organized by Passport Life, which is the brainchild of Kenji Summers. Passport Life is part of a movement to help under-resourced people get passports, travel and participate in global culture.