BLKNWS (2018–), an acclaimed video installation by Kahlil Joseph, has been shown at museums and biennials worldwide. Now, it could be heading to a theater near you in the form of a feature-length film.
In a cryptic announcement posted on social media on Wednesday, A24, the hit-making film distributor that put out Moonlight, Hereditary, and Minari, said it would release a feature-length version of BLKNWS by Joseph. It’s still unclear, however, when that film will be due out, or what form its release will take.
BLKNWS first appeared at the Venice Biennale in 2019, where it figured in the main exhibition. Alongside pieces by Arthur Jafa and the duo Sun Yuan and Peng Yu, BLKNWS was one of the works that got the most attention at the show. In his review of the 2019 Venice Biennale for ARTnews, Andrew Russeth labeled BLKNWS one of the best works on view.
The video installation, which has taken multiple forms since Joseph began making it in 2018, is intended to envision a news station from the perspective of a Black creator. Featuring appropriated imagery, material culled from social media, and footage of Joseph’s own making, it is intended to encapsulate the past, present, and future of the Black experience, with dashes of humor and pathos along the way. Joseph has repeatedly returned to the project, reformatting it into newsreels that play before other works, a video installation version, and a single-screen short that has been screened theatrically at the Sundance Film Festival in 2020.
Since the Venice Biennale, Joseph, who was also a director of Beyoncé’s 2016 visual album Lemonade, has taken BLKNWS to other venues, including a 2020 David Zwirner survey of his brother Noah Davis, an artist whose legacy includes founding the Underground Museum in Los Angeles. A version of that show is set to open tomorrow at that museum, where Joseph serves as creative director. BLKNWS also appeared in last year’s edition of the Made in L.A. biennial, where it was shown at the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, as well as at various locations around L.A. Ahead of that biennial, the L.A.-based space LAND also began showing an installation version of it.