PLAY NOWFebruary 10, 2020Well, that was fun. For the last year and a half, I’ve been contributing creative and editorial direction to YouTube Music’s social media channels under the aegis of the New York-based studio Work of the People (WOTP). Our lean but talent-packed squad generated daily content that increased the brand’s community by about 1 mill within a year, while the platform also adopted our copywriting into its core messaging and outdoor advertising. But those are the dry corporate wins — what really mattered was the music at the end of the day.By leveraging the programming our team was able to spotlight regional artists from Zagreb to Yaoundé to Kyoto and Kingston; endorse vital new music, from Kelsey Lu to Downtown Boys; and recognize cultural contributions by the likes of Larry Levan, Nina Simone, Miriam Makeba, Selena, and Kurt Cobain; all within a dizzying matrix of coverage around the new generation of global pop stars. The youthful vibrancy and ephemeral immediacy of the material providing welcome breaks from the weightier and more hyper-considered projects that have been on deck recently. It was good to be reminded that work can feel, and look, like play.
WORK IN PROGRESSOctober 01, 2019In partnership with art director Wayne Wu and the writer Anicée Gaddis, I've undertaken a new print project with our mutual friend and esteemed colleague, the photographer Alessandro Simonetti. Due to publish in late spring 2020, the journal will not only share several exclusive and extensive photo projects by Simonetti, it will also take readers into the photographer's creative and personal galaxy; shining a light on the people and places that have influenced his POV and that continue to inform his life and work. Pictured: the wake from a ferry crossing from the mainland of Italy towards Sicily, as photographed by Simonetti in August 2019. The photographer traveled to Palermo to produce a story that touches on migration, history, community, and identity as part of a series of original features for the publication.
RENEWABLE ENERGYSeptember 02, 2019"[Kahlil] Joseph's BLKNWS, 2019, is hypnotic and exhilarating in its omnivorous exuberance, covering everything from climate change to Canadian police de-escalation training to archival footage of poet June Jordan reciting 'Song of the Law Abiding Citizen,' interrupted with slogans like INTELLECTUAL ENERGY and DECONSTRUCTING EUROPEAN PHILOSOPHIES. Updated throughout the show to include recent news items, the two-channel work allows the sound of one screen to infect and inflect the second. This is disruptive montage in the best avant-garde tradition." — Claire Bishop, "In The Bland Scheme of Things," review of the 58th Venice Biennale ("May You Live in Interesting Times"), Artforum, September 2019.BLKNWS defies an easy categorization — Is it an art piece, a media company, a dissident pirate broadcast, a video mixtape, a brand, or what? The continually evolving work by the artist and filmmaker Kahlil Joseph has, thus far, only manifested itself IRL: as newsreels prior to summertime film screenings at The Underground Museum and as an install within their bookshop, as an exhibition at the Cantor Arts Center on Stanford University's campus, as a selection in the 2019 Venice Biennale, and as part of an arts festival in Washington, D.C., with large-scale installations inside a gutted warehouse and within the lobby of the Eaton Hotel and, radically enough, mounted on a wall at Lee's Barbershop, a black-owned establishment in the city's Southeast District.Over the course of the last two years, I’ve had the fortune of being drafted into a dynamic ensemble cast — that at various times has included Amandla Stenberg, Helen Molesworth, Alzo Slade, Hassan Rahim, Sheba Anyanwu, Parallax Post, Darol Kae, Steven Traylor, and Commonwealth Projects (to name just a few!) — for the realization of Joseph’s expansive BLKNWS project.
Having a direct engagement with the trove of source material that comprises BLKNWS, while also finding myself in conversation and collaboration with such a brilliant group of people, has provided both an intellectual and a spiritual charge at pivotal times since 2017 — an energizing of the mind and soul during each production.
MUSIC FROM THE MARGINSJuly 08, 2019"In Violent Times / Love Is Found" is a special four-part series produced as part of the Midnight Rockers Express mixtape project. Dedicated to music from the 1980’s, and focused primarily on singles released for radio airplay and 12" versions made for club DJs, the series considers recordings that moved from the margins of that era to the main of pop culture — providing some light in the darkness during the Reagan and Thatcher years. Artwork for the entire series features stills from a range of found footage, via YouTube, of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. The title of the series borrows from the lyrics to "Shout" by Tears for Fears and New Order's "Thieves Like Us."Stream: "In Violent Times / Love Is Found, 1980 — 1989"
BREAKING NEWSMay 14, 2019"BLKNWS is a two-channel video that imagines a cable news network animated by a cosmopolitan, culturally omnivorous, politically engaged, art-loving, and intellectual black sensibility — a bit like if BET merged with CNN and then merged with Artforum and The New Yorker. While it is presented as an uninterrupted flow of images, clips, segments, and pop music in a way that gives it an associative artistic quality — and echoes the video style made famous by [Arthur] Jafa, a mentor and friend of Joseph’s who name-checked him in his Golden Lion speech — it was actually originally created as a pitch to cable networks for a real-life news show. Because all the major networks turned down the idea, it now exists in the Biennial as the evocation of a counter-factual creative vision, i.e. an artwork." — Andrew Goldstein, "Why TV Executives Should Make Artist Kahlil Joseph’s ‘BLKNWS’ Network, a Star of the Venice Biennale, Into a Reality," artnet, May 14, 2019
TO HEAR EVERYTHINGDecember 30, 2018 "To listen to Aretha Franklin now is to hear everything — everything that came before her, each strain of American blues and jazz and gospel and soul, all the musical traditions people leaned on to stay alive, and everything that exists now, all the singers she gave license to, everyone she taught. Her death is in all of us, as her songs are in all of us. She is as immortal as can be." — Amanda Petrusich, "Aretha Franklin Is As Immortal As Can Be," The New Yorker, August 16, 2018Midnight Rockers Express, the long-running mixtape project in collaboration with DJ Getlive, closes out the year with a two-hour special dedicated to the music of Aretha Franklin. Stream: "Queen of Soul, Volumes 1 & 2"
VISUAL SUPPLYAugust 14, 2018Pictured: a photograph by Maganga Mwagogo, processed utilizing the Agave preset pack by VSCO, one of three new digital film concepts developed by creative director Justin Gorman and myself in collaboration with the tech brand's ingenious image science team.
FEB MAG AT MOCAFebruary 26, 2018Feb Mag is now available at the bookstore of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Pictured: the cover of Feb Mag, 2017, featuring a photograph made in Chicago in 1976 by Faith Childs-Davis.
SON. IS SHININGNovember 10, 2017Pictured: an interview with Antwaun Sargent, featuring photography by Micaiah Carter, part of a 16-page preview edition of SON., published as an insert within the debut issue of Feb Mag. SON. is a media project and community platform organized by creative director Justen LeRoy.
UNDERGROUND MEDIAOctober 06, 2017Early October sees the release of Feb Mag, a bespoke publication, produced in collaboration with Myriam Ben Salah and Adam Squires, for The Underground Museum. Purchase a copy at The UM's bookshop or via their online store.
ON PRESSAugust 21, 2017Printing Feb Mag for The Underground Museum at The Prolific Group in Winnipeg Manitoba. Pictured: press proofs of work by Kandis Williams, Martine Syms, Karon Davis, and Deana Lawson.
STRANGE RHYTHMSMarch 31, 2017"A strange slow rhythm, not exactly creating a rhythm / Here it comes / In and out of focus, vulnerable, the original crevasse"— lyrics from "Female Vampire" by Jenny HvalJoakim Jansson, of Sans Colour, guests on the Midnight Rockers Express, providing the music curation and art direction for this 43rd edition in the mixtape series. Jansson visited our Queens studio location and worked directly with DJ Getlive and myself in assembling this brilliant mix, which coolly rides a dark seductive tension throughout its hour-long duration. Stream: "MRE43"
A SENSE OF PLACEJanuary 30, 2017Work in progress: a photo essay by Nico Young for the forthcoming Feb Mag, a self-published magazine from The Underground Museum, which is shaping up to be equal parts exhibition catalog, art journal, and a loose compendium on the life, to date, of the beloved art space founded by Noah and Karon Davis. The completed feature by Young will take the reader into the museum's central Los Angeles neighborhood, sharing images of the proud faces and unique spaces that comprise The UM's home.
MAKING IT HAPPENJanuary 18, 2017Pictured: framed page proofs for CABLE, with artwork based on a scene from the 2010 film Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child by Tamra Davis, on display at the entrance to the Brooklyn design studio CHIPS. A gift to art director Adam Squires and the entire shop for their generous collaboration on that 2013 publication, the piece — bearing a caption by the legendary Fab 5 Freddy ("….really very specifically about making it happen.") — offers a push as we start a new project together in 2017.
WORK / SPACEDecember 20, 2016VSCO Creative Studio, NYC, 01.2016 — 12.2016.
A SPIRITUAL TRIPDecember 15, 2016The filmmaker Omid Fatemi took a spiritual trip around Puerto Rico with island resident Otura Mun in order to trace the artist's nascent journey into the ancient West African religion of Ifá. The resulting short film connects ideas around identity, the African diaspora, the power of music, and the relationship between the spiritual and material worlds.Watch: "Conversations with Otura Mun"
SEEING AMERICANovember 23, 2016Wilson Cameron shot and edited this short on Renato D'Agostin, wherein the acclaimed photographer discusses his commitment to shooting on film and his love for the tactile nature of making custom print photographs. D'Agostin also shares insight on his latest self-published book 7439, named for the number of miles accrued on his motorcycle while documenting America coast to coast. The video short is part of a slate of original programming produced by myself and the creative team at VSCO's New York studio. Watch: "Renato D'Agostin — 7439"
RUN OF SHOWNovember 03, 2016From the press release for the "Bekoji" pop-up exhibition and project launch event: “The presentation at VSCO’s New York space features a studio installation of a film by Joel Wolpert and a photography essay by Kent Andreasen shown in large scale format. The project’s creative producer and writer, Knox Robinson, will stage a Q&A on Bekoji with Kayla Nolan of Girls Gotta Run Foundation, the only charity operating in Ethiopia that provides academic and athletic scholarships for young women in the country. Catering of classic Ethiopian vegetarian fare and a traditional coffee ceremony will be provided by Philipos Mengistu of NYC’s iconic Queen of Sheba restaurant.”
ART FORMAugust 08, 2016The "Kyoto" project for 23.5 concludes with director Alan Algee’s "Moving / Memory,” a short film featuring shodō artist and teacher Hiroshi Ueta demonstrating his own avant-garde calligraphy approach, and discussing its relationship to the history and practice of the art form in Japan.Watch: "Moving / Memory"
ON SETApril 07, 2016Jordan Ullman, of the music duo Majid Jordan, on set at the VSCO Creative Studio for Venue's "Portraits" series.
RARE BOOK ROOMMarch 31, 2016In one of the many high points for the project, I & I by Alessandro Simonetti and Anicée Gaddis is now on sale at Dashwood Books, New York’s renowned purveyor of photography books. (Book details: linen hardcover, 112 pages, 6 x 9 inches, offset printed, Smyth sewn, featuring 42 b+w photographs by Simonetti and a long-form essay by Gaddis, published by VSCO and Small Kings Press.)
BTSMarch 26, 2016A member of the band Wet warms up at the VSCO Creative Studio ahead of the filming of "Body" by Yoonha Park.
WILD POSTINGMarch 24, 2016A wheat paste installation by Alessandro Simonetti, created for the "I & I" exhibit, remains on display inside VSCO's New York studio.
100% IRIEMarch 23, 2016The book signing and pop-up exhibition for the "I & I" project, held at VSCO's New York space, turned into a proper dance party when Kingston, Jamaica's renowned selector Yaadcore concluded the proceedings with an uplifting and undeniable set of classic roots and culture anthems and the best in new reggae. The rum 'n' Ting and Guinness flowed, the music was turned up loud, and the studio's cyc became an impromptu dance floor — everyone left feeling 100% irie, for real.
HEAVY BASSMarch 21, 2016"The evening will include a presentation of the work by the authors and a book signing — and heavy, heavy bass."
REWINDMarch 16, 2016From The Clash to Kelela, the I-Threes to Aphex Twin, our weekly residency at K90, Kinfolk’s Brooklyn cafe and bar space, provided the time and space to explore the full spectrum of tracks we’ve curated under the Midnight Rockers Express banner. The three-month run proved crucial for surviving the late winter blues of New York.
ISIS SWABY MEETS MIDNIGHT ROCKERS DOWNTOWNMarch 10, 2016Isis Swaby, the multidisciplinary artist and DJ, was mesmerizing with her unique set of electro-bass-leftfield-reggae as a featured guest during the MRE's residency at K90. She’s pictured above, during a pop-up event last year for Kangol Radio, playing an all vinyl set of her father’s classic recordings and productions — Isis Swaby being the daughter of Jamaican music legend Augustus Pablo.
FOCUSFebruary 24, 2016Photographer Amanda Hakan and Aurora, the left field pop singer and songwriter hailing from Bergen, Norway, during a midday shoot for Venue's "Portraits" series.
PROOF POSITIVEFebruary 16, 2016Alessandro Simonetti and Anicée Gaddis take time to review the printer proofs for their book I & I during a visit to the VSCO Creative Studio.
WORLD ON TILTFebruary 10, 2016As part of VSCO’s foray into original content programming, 23.5 has launched with stories on deck from Jamaica, Iraq, Nigeria, Japan, Ethiopia, and Puerto Rico. Expect global POV’s from enriching (and rad!) new angles.
ROADHOUSE MUSICDecember 10, 2015Korey Dane and his father share a quiet moment on set at Pappy & Harriet's, a famed roadhouse near Joshua Tree, during the filming of "The Lion & The Keeper (Live from the High Desert)" for Venue.
LIVE & DIRECTNovember 05, 2015DJ Getlive, creative partner and producer with the Midnight Rockers Express mixtape project, set off Boiler Room’s five year anniversary celebration at Brooklyn’s Good Room, playing alongside Mike Q, L-Vis 1990, Pete Rock, Spinna, and Danny Tenaglia. Watch the entire set at Boiler Room’s Dailymotion channel.
DRUM MACHINEOctober 19, 2015Shigeto, the acclaimed electronic producer, DJ, and percussionist on the Ghostly International record label, gave everything he had for the performance takes of his single "Do My Thing" during filming at S.I.R. studios in Manhattan. Director Omid Fatemi captured the Detroit-based artist set against a massive LED installation featuring visual designer EFFIXX's hypnotic on-the-fly manipulations of a series of kinetic paintings by Michael Cina. It was all for a slate of projects forthcoming from Venue, VSCO's new music channel. Stay tuned.