An Interview with: Khalik Allah
The New York photographer/filmmaker discusses spirituality, future plans, meeting Nas and more.
Please note: for those who prefer audio, this interview is also on Bandcamp, free of charge: https://reecebeckett.bandcamp.com/track/an-interview-with-khalik-allah
I felt it would be a loss to only have this in text, as I have always found Khalik to be a great speaker in other interviews.
I distinctly remember my first experience with the work of Khalik Allah, a photographer and filmmaker from New York. It was his short film, Urban Rashomon, watched on YouTube (where it remains for those curious) — a film primarily about Allah’s photographic process and notably his connection with Frenchie, a homeless man Allah met whilst photographing who impacted him in particular. The film is haunted by Frenchie’s murmured singing, placed over the top of Khalik’s own narration talking about his ideas and many photographs taken by him. It was an indelible viewing experience, even when I must have only been around 15 when seeing it.
4 years later, I have now seen almost all of his work. Allah’s Field N*ggas is my personal favourite of his works — a beautiful, life-affirming short feature which sees Khalik talk of spirituality and often talk to and about his subjects, again over the top of plenty of photography and video he shot at the same time. In 2020, IWOW: I Walk On Water was released — a towering, almost four hour long opus so sprawling and so personal that it is hard to summarise and articulate here… so I’ll allow Khalik to do it later on.
This interview was conducted on the 11th January 2022, a discussion that had me incredibly nervous to speak to one of my three primary inspirations in art, and in general. I hope you all find something of worth in it!
Reece Beckett: So, I know that in the start of your book Souls Against the Concrete you talk about how you actually got started with photography specifically, but do you want to tell that story yourself?
Khalik Allah: Sure, I started off as a filmmaker first. A lot of people begin as a photographer and then become a filmmaker. For me, I was into the motion picture and then I got to still pictures. It had to do with…