Kahlil Joseph


In his captivating short films, Los Angeles–based artist and filmmaker Kahlil Joseph conjures the vibrant and impressionistic quality of dreams through a kaleidoscope of quotidian scenes and intimate moments.

Cover Image:

Kahlil Joseph, m.A.A.d., 2014 (still, detail). 35mm film transferred to two-channel video, sound, color; 15:26 min. Courtesy the artist

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In recent years, much of Joseph’s filmmaking has taken shape through collaborations with some of the most respected and forward-thinking hip-hop, jazz, indie, and electronic musicians working today, including Arcade Fire, FKA Twigs, Flying Lotus, Kendrick Lamar, Sampha, and Shabazz Palaces. For this exhibition, his first solo presentation in New York, Joseph will debut a new black-and-white film that draws inspiration from photographer Roy DeCarava (1919–2009), whose images of celebrated jazz musicians and everyday life in Harlem Joseph has long admired. Drawing from DeCarava’s virtuosity with chiaroscuro effects and his commitment to representations that reflect the rhythms of daily life, Joseph’s new film will consider the dimensions of past, present, and future in Harlem and New York City.

For his New Museum exhibition, this new work will be presented in an installation together with m.A.A.d. (2014), a lush two-channel portrait of Compton, CA, that blends home video footage from the early 1990s with Joseph’s own footage, shot two decades later. Seen together, these works will serve as foils to one another, offering a conversation between two contrasting urban settings and the people who call them home. While m.A.A.d. offers a predominantly contemporary image, Joseph’s new work will extend beyond the present day—yet, in the spirit of DeCarava and true to Joseph’s past work, music will figure centrally in both. Surrounding the viewer with large-scale projections and immersive soundscapes, both works will reflect on the ways identity, memory, and spirituality are negotiated and expressed in distinct but equally influential cultural landscapes. The exhibition is curated by Natalie Bell, Assistant Curator, and Massimiliano Gioni, Edlis Neeson Artistic Director.

Kahlil Joseph (b. 1981, Seattle, WA) is an artist and filmmaker based in Los Angeles. His first solo presentation at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2015), was followed by two-person exhibitions at the Frye Art Museum, Seattle, with Noah Davis (2016), and at Blum & Poe, Los Angeles, with Henry Taylor (2016). Joseph has screened his works in the Toronto International Film Festival, the Marfa Film Festival, and the Sundance Film Festival, where he received the Grand Jury Prize for Short Films in 2013. He has also exhibited in group shows at the Studio Museum in Harlem (2016); the Hayward Gallery, London (2016); the Underground Museum, Los Angeles (2015); and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia (2014). In 2016, Joseph was nominated for an Emmy award for his co-direction of Beyoncé’s Lemonade. He is the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship (2016) and a Los Angeles Artadia Award (2017).

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Kahlil Joseph’s forthcoming film is made possible with the generous support of the Vinyl Factory.

This exhibition is made possible with support provided by the Toby Devan Lewis Emerging Artists Exhibitions Fund.

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