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Is Diddy’s New Black News Network a Ripoff of Artist Kahlil Joseph’s Acclaimed Venice Biennale Proje


Sean Combs.

Music mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs surprised fans over the weekend by announcing the launch of a new platform, “Black News,” to report current events from the perspective of the black community.

This might be welcome news to many, but for some, it brought about an uncomfortable sense of déjà vu. Artist, filmmaker, and music video director Kahlil Joseph, creative director of Los Angeles’s Underground Museum, presented a strikingly similar concept at the 2019 Venice Biennale with his video, BLKNWS.

And it didn’t take long for many in the cultural community—including Moonlight and If Beale Street Could Talk director Barry Jenkins—to point that out.

Diddy introduced his latest endeavor in an Instagram video: “I always wanted to develop a platform to report the news from our perspective, from our lens, from our people—so I decided to launch ‘Black News,'” he said.

The framing echoes the thinking behind Joseph’s project, which Artnet News editor-in-chief Andrew Goldstein described as “a two-channel video that imagines a cable news network animated by a cosmopolitan, culturally omnivorous, politically engaged, art-loving, and intellectual black sensibility—a bit like if BET merged with CNN and then merged with Artforum and the New Yorker.”

Joseph has declined to comment on the similarity, but his fans and colleagues haven’t been so circumspect. While no one person could make an exclusive claim to such a big idea, some have pointed out that it is unlikely that Diddy was unaware of Joseph’s work, and expressed disappointment that the precedent went unacknowledged.

“At first I was SURPRISED then delighted that Kahlil and Diddy came together but then I checked and… I’m sorry but this ain’t right,” Barry Jenkins wrote on Twitter. “It illustrates how one can collect art without SEEING it. Bcuz how can Kerry James Marshall be on your wall but u not know of Kahlil Joseph?”

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Cheers,

Errol


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