VMEN Fall/Winter 2019: JACQUES COLIMON
Artist Jacques Colimon and finding inspiration in troubled times.
For an 8:00 am call, Jacques Colimon is disarmingly sharp, recalling anecdotes that range from his Haitian grandma’s voodoo spirituals to Eckhart Tolle’s concept of “inner space,” once imparted to him via a drama teacher’s sock puppet demo. After weaving together this ad hoc sermon as if it had been naturally hovering in the forefront of his mind, Colimon circles back to his hometown of L.A., where he still lives and to which he returned after UT Austin by way of off-off-Broadway. “A lot of people’s expectations of L.A. are [based in] job security,” he says of the city. “[Whereas] my main predisposition is the drive to make art.”
Colimon, best known as Will on Netflix’s The Society, calls himself a “multi-hyphenate,” and his buzzy gigs seem a foothold from which to pursue more existentially tricky work—that of elevating “POC narratives and ancient mythology,” he says. Not to be confused with dilettantism, his multi-tier mission is animated by resistance: “[Both] Black artistry and activism [were designed to] disarm trapping mechanisms of categorization, and create resilience—to welcome the complex fullness of life.”
With his growing platform, Colimon is laser-focused in championing fellow artists—as his single-digit “Following” count on Instagram shows. “I like to follow one person at a time—if [they] bring me joy, I get to keep [them].” he says. (His account of choice today is that of Phillip Youmans, 19-year-old director of TriBeCa Film Festival breakout Burning Cane.)
Outside of Instagram, everyone from Marilyn Manson to Shel Silverstein sparks joy in Colimon, now in the process of writing a “part musical, part confessional.” “It explores The Giving Tree in the same way that Manson does in his first album with Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” he explains. But with election season in swing, Colimon is just as focused on real-world nightmares. “I understand feeling uninspired by [today’s] politics; [it’s] nihilism in the face of genocide,” he says. But he hasn’t ruled out a fairytale ending yet: “I am an artist so I get to make the impossible demands; I get to dream.”