Khalik Allah

Khalik Allah Press: THE NEW YORKER, January 18, 2018 - Richard Brody


January 18, 2018 - Richard Brody

A Filmmaker and Photographer’s Urgent, Personal Portraits of Harlem at Night

These images—of people, mainly black people, many of whom endure drug addiction, physical infirmities, poverty, homelessness, and harassment from the police—have an essential documentary urgency. They also have a spiritual essence, an element of passion and grace that’s revealed by Allah’s compositional grandeur and textural intimacy—but these revelations of style arise from his own experience, which he also details in the book, in an extraordinary personal essay, “Camera Ministry.” In the essay, Allah—who has an exhibition opening at New York’s Gitterman Gallery, in March—discusses his first enthusiasm for filmmaking, in the late nineteen-nineties, as a teen-ager from Long Island, at the same time that he began to frequent Harlem, to study the work of the Five Percent Nation, and to become friends with members of the Wu-Tang Clan. He discusses the happenstance of his sudden interest in photography at a time, in his early twenties, when he had put his filmmaking on hold. It’s a story that involves his family, but, above all, it involves his relationships with the people whom he photographs, as well as with other people whom he encountered on the street.

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Khalik Allah Press: THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW, November 28, 2017 - Luc Sante


November 28, 2017 - Luc Sante

People continue to live on the streets even if we are not as aware of the fact now, as Khalik Allah shows in SOULS AGAINST THE CONCRETE (University of Texas, $50). In 2011, Allah began taking his camera at night to the corner of 125th Street and Lexington Avenue, a drug spot for more than half a century, and established a regular post there. When he got to the point where the regulars trusted him and he could take pictures of people by simply asking, he also realized his method: color film and available light — from streetlights, store windows, cop cars. The combination makes faces appear especially vivid, emerging from the darkness like ships at sea. Many of the faces belong to ravaged smokers of K2, a treacherous marijuana substitute that remains legal in New York State and is sold nearby, but Allah also takes in people who are just walking to the subway station. The result is a panorama of human emotion: sadness, passion, bewilderment, pride, suspicion, amusement, exhaustion — all the faces of the night. “Time is over, and the world has ended,” Allah writes. “Only the Light continues.”