BLKNWS project

Kahlil Joseph’s two-screen art-work-slash-news-network offers an alternative to the media’s harmful representations of the black community
Last month, Sean “Diddy” Combs announced that he was launching a new platform called REVOLT BLACK NEWS. The music mogul stated that its aim would be “to report the news from our perspective, for our people.” He added: “This platform is for solutions. ⁣⁣We’ve already heard about what we can’t do, but this is about what we CAN do.”
It should have been a rallying moment, but what you may not know is that Combs’ statement of intent sounds remarkably similar to filmmaker, director, and artist Kahlil Joseph’s ongoing project BLKNWS. Though Diddy has said he came up with the idea after hosting an online discussion called “State of Emergency: The State of Black America & Coronavirus”, many prominent figures – including director Barry Jenkins and curator and author Kimberly Drew – have since come to Joseph’s aid to suggest Diddy’s new project is in debt to the original BLKNWS.
Conceived as an antidote to the dangerous representation of black stereotypes pedalled on the mainstream US news, BLKNWS is a two-channel video montage created using newly created imagery and contemporary news clips, alongside found and archival footage that focusses the multi-facets of black lives.
Joseph first made a name for himself creating videos for high-profile artists such as Kendrick Lamar (2014’s dual-screen m.A.A.d.) and Beyoncé (2016’s Lemonade film), as well as FKA twigs, Flying Lotus, Shabazz Palaces, and others. His work has also been shown in art institutions such as Tate Modern, MoCA, and the New Museum. At the beginning of the year he unveiled an installation at the Los Angeles’ outpost of retailer The Webster. The brother of late artist and curator, Noah Davis, Joseph is crucially involved in LA’s Underground Museum, which Davis founded in 2012, three years before his untimely passing. Located in the historically working-class, predominantly black and Latino neighbourhood of Arlington Heights, its mission statement is to bring artists such as Rodney McMillian, Deana Lawson, and Roy DeCarava, into walking-distance of a community that has historically not had access to it.
In honour of Joseph’s contribution, not just the art world at large but to his community generally, we highlight five things that make BLKNWS so groundbreaking.
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