Kahlil Joseph, a Los Angeles–based artist and filmmaker, can’t avoid music’s influence.
He said that his dream job was to direct music videos, and he achieved that goal.
He directed music videos for artists like Flying Lotus, he was later nominated for an Emmy as one of the directors of Beyoncé’s visual album “Lemonade” and the New Yorker critic Hilton Als wrote about how his emotional eye restored his faith in the music video.
Then he discovered the freedom that only Art can get you, and thanks to his brother he experienced a new level of visual and sound communication, as he explained when he started making films for gallery spaces:
“I was, like: ‘Wow, I feel way more full as a creative person in this space than all these other spaces I was trying to fit myself into.’ Those boxes are small. Even feature film, it has to be a certain length. But in the art space it can be 25 seconds or five hours, and that makes sense to me.” Rather than “this is a music video, this is a fashion film, this is a documentary”, in an art space “anything is possible now – it’s about ideas and I’m really excited by that”.
In “Kahlil Joseph: Shadow Play,” his first solo presentation in New York which runs at the New Museum through Jan. 7, Joseph debuts Fly Paper (2017), a new film installation that departs from his admiration of the work of Roy DeCarava (1919–2009), a photographer and artist known for his images of celebrated jazz musicians and everyday life in Harlem.
In this work music figures centrally, as usual in Joseph’s works. Sounds reverberate as vital and powerful analogues for the play of images through which he chronicles the stories and rhythms of his subjects.
As much as they plumb the history of cinema and moving images, Joseph’s films also find a parallel in the lyricism, complexity, and affective power of black musical traditions.
Fly Paper also moves beyond the visible by expanding Joseph’s practice into sound, unfolding a complex acoustic environment in which sonic textures and original compositions resonate throughout the exhibition space.
The installation is a joy for eyes and ears. It’s an immersive sound experience that has been possible also thanks a great use of a Funktion-One audio system.