Video Picks: Martine Syms and Kahlil Joseph – image, memory, identity

Artists and film-makers Martine Syms and Kahlil Joseph are collectors of ‘orphaned media’ and found footage. So what happened when these two artists decided to work together?


Video: Martine Syms & Kahlil Joseph, Memory Palace, 2015, single channel video, color and sound, running time: 2min, 21sec, courtesy of the artists. This video is a result of Martin and Kahlil’s collaboration. Together they depict singer Alice Smith’s discovery of a photo album – an example of the type of ‘orphaned’ media that interests Syms. Who are the characters in this story, are they related to Alice, Martine or Kahlil? Does it matter? It’s up to you to decide.

Explore more of Martine’s work from her ‘Fact and Trouble’ exhibition at the ICA in 2016


Martine’s work focuses on how we interact with images and what they mean to us. She also looks at the distance and difference between a real lived experience and its representation, which can be related to how we use social media to constantly document our day-to-day lives. Is it an authentic portrayal of our identities? And where does the need to do this come from? Martine made another piece entitled ‘’ in which she compiled three years worth of her google searches as a kind of diary entry.

Kahlil Joseph’s work dabbles with music video. He’s created shorts for Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus, FKA Twigs and Beyoncé to name but a few. He deconstructs found footage and merges it with his own. He does the same with the accompanying sound or audio, slowing elements down to suit the pace of the imagery.


Advisory note: some of Kahlil Joseph’s work includes violent sequences, view with caution.


Looking for other artists to inspire you?

Check out the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles website

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