LI-MA Case Study: Kahlil Joseph’s BLKNWS

Blog post

Since 2020, LI-MA has been hard at work conducting the case study research associated with their nation-wide Sustainable Infrastructure for Digital Art project. The first three case studies involved the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (RCE), the KRC Collection, the Kröller-Müller Museum, as well as the Boijmans Museum van Beuningen and focused on the theme of analysis.

In January, LI-MA began the case studies that address the second theme in the infrastructure project beginning with Debra Solomon’s the-living (1998 - 2000) and currently Kahlil Joseph’s BLKNWS (2018 - ) owned and researched with the collaboration of the Bonnefanten Museum. BLKNWS poses an excellent case study to address the theme of documentation, as what the artist describes as a “fugitive newscast,” it forms an open-ended video installation that has been presented in a disseminated fashion since its first exhibitions at Stanford University and the Venice Biennale. The work, inspired by a television pitch to create a channel dedicated to updates in black news and culture that never made it, revolves around the concept of providing a new visual lexicon of Blackness that is the antithesis of what is typically transmitted by media outlets.

BLKNWS at Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht.

As a further documentation challenge, the two-channel work is continuously being expanded and changed by a group of “fugitive journalists” while it plays from a proprietary media player that automatically downloads these updated versions. Documenting then becomes a question of how to capture the work while permitting its continued variability? To answer this question, at this time LI-MA, working closely with the Bonnefanten Museum, is compiling the options for how best to represent the work through methods that address its distributed presentation and those that recognize the collaborative network that produces and cares for it. As to close this out, in the artist’s own words,

“Each site is networked and controlled remotely from my studio. It's unstable. I think art, at its best, is unstable.” Kahlil Joseph

The reference information for the quote is: Kahlil Joseph in Solway, Diane. 2019. “Kahlil Joseph Is Challenging Representations of Black Life in America”, Surface Magazine, December 2, 2019. Pictures: BLKNWS installed at OSCAM and at the Bonnefanten Museum, Courtesy of OSCAM and the Bonnefanten Museum.