Holding Blackness in Suspension: The Films of Kahlil Joseph

A public screening and symposium dedicated to award-winning LA-based filmmaker, installation artist, and hip-hop video director, Kahlil Joseph, which showcases his work with Kendrick Lamar, FKA Twigs, Flying Lotus, and Beyoncé in Lemonade. Hosted by liquid blackness, a research project on blackness and aesthetics. 

Film Screening and Q&A with Kahlil Joseph: Thursday, October 6, 7 pm.Kahlil Joseph, liquid blackness, CENCIA, Georgia State University
Kopleff Recital Hall, 10 Peachtree Center Ave.

Symposium:  Friday, October 7, 2 pm
Creative Media Industries Institute, 25 Park Place, 2nd Floor

Reception:  Friday, October 7, 7 pm
Gallery 72, 72 Marietta St.

Kahlil Joseph is the Emmy-nominated director of Beyoncé’s Lemonade (together with Beyoncé herself). He has made surreal and arrestingly beautiful short films in collaboration with some of the most respected, politically engaged and forward-thinking hip-hop artists of our time: Kendrick Lamar, FKA Twigs, Flying Lotus in Until the Quiet Comes (2012 Sundance winner), and is considered one of the most important hip-hop video directors.

Featuring hip-hop and visual scholars, the symposium will focus on Joseph’s use of hip-hop as a dynamic exploration of race, space, and movement in the context of an experimental film practice that fluidly moves from the gallery space to the Vimeo page.

Through the idea of “suspension,” the symposium will address both the peculiar quality of Joseph’s surreal visual landscapes and the way bodies move within them to attend to the rich texture and affectively pregnant quality of what he describes as a “new kind of music film.” “Suspension” also expresses the liquid blackness commitment to “holding” blackness in the middle of our collective conversations and ethical concerns.

All events FREE and open to the public!


Kahlil Joseph has made a number of beautifully-shot short films in collaboration with some of the most respected, politically engaged, and forward-thinking hip-hop artists such as Kendrick Lamar and FKA Twigs, as well as indie bands such as Arcade Fire. Joseph, considered one of the most important hip-hop video directors, is also one of the seven filmmakers who directed—in collaboration with the artist herself—Beyoncé’s visual album, Lemonade, for which he has been nominated for an Emmy award. He is also the director of the artist collective, What Matters Most, which pursues a similarly surreal aesthetics as a way to reimagine more expansive possibilities for blackness.

Joseph’s short film for Flying Lotus, Until the Quiet Comes, received widespread critical acclaim. The film won the Grand Jury Prize for Short Films at Sundance Film Festival 2012 and Video of the Year at the UKMVAs 2013. It was also featured in the exhibition eMERGING: Visual Art & Music in a Post-Hip-Hop Era, curated by James Bartlett for the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts in Brooklyn, NY and, most importantly, in the Ruffneck Constructivists exhibit for the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, which was curated by world renown contemporary silhouette artist Kara Walker. This past summer Joseph had his first solo show at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, Kahlil Joseph: Double Conscience, which included a 2-screen video installation titled m.A.A.d


liquid blackness is a research project on blackness and aesthetics that curates critical encounters around arts of the black diaspora, online research tools and resources, and a scholarly journal. It is coordinated by Dr. Alessandra Raengo with graduate students and alumni from the Moving Image Studies Doctoral Program at Georgia State University. liquid blackness has hosted film series (L.A. Rebellion: Creating a New Black Cinema, Black Audio Film Collective Film and Speaker Series), screenings of acclaimed and hard-to-see art films (Passing Through, Larry Clark, 1977 and Dreams are Colder than Death, Arthur Jafa, 2013) as well as symposia (on blackness and aesthetics and on the Arts and Politics of the Jazz Ensemble) and conversations with artists. Kahlil Joseph’s work fits within liquid blackness’s continued research on experimentations with uncompromising black film aesthetics, its interest in artists’ collectives, and its pursuit of expansive expressive possibilities for blackness. For more information, visit www.liquidblackness.com.

Holding Blackness in Suspension: The Films of of Kahlil Joseph is additionally supported by the Creative Media Industries Institute and the Institute for Women’s Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Georgia State University, the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts at Georgia Institute of Technology, and the Film and Media Studies Department at Emory University.

GSU Faculty Project Lead: Alessandra Raengo, Associate Professor of Communication.