Sampling as Life

Ephraim Asili
BlackMass Publishing

December 16, 2023, 2pm
Géza, 306 Maujer

Most of the time, when you pull in references, their message can be lost in the process. When I’m working, I still allow them to maintain their integrity. J Dilla also operated in this way. When he was digging in record stores, finding vinyls, chopping them up, ripping out the interior; the foundation on which that record was created still exists – only under a new lens. And I think that’s a raw, beautiful way to work. It allows for real freedom. – Yusuf Hassan   

Organized within the context of his multi-channel film installation and exhibition Song for My Mother (October 5, 2023–February 11, 2024) Ephraim Asili is joined by Yusuf Hassan and Kwamé Sorrell of BlackMass Publishing for a lecture-performance that mirrors and reflects on the concept of collage—or “sampling”—as a mode that mutually informs their work. By assembling fragments of sound, image, video, and music alongside an open-ended dialogue, the artists explore the legacy of “sampling” within Black American creative processes and invite questions that challenge notions of authorship, originality, and forms of archival practice.  

Founded in 2019 by Yusuf Hassan, BlackMass Publishing is an independent press led in collaboration with artist Kwamé Sorrell. Guided by an improvisational and reference-driven process and dedicated to the promotion of Black artists and cultural producers, Hassan and Sorrell cite the style and sensibilities of jazz poets like Ted Joans to the sample-driven innovations of hip-hop beat-maker J Dilla as key inspirations for their work.

Ephraim Asili is an African American multidisciplinary artist and educator whose practice centers the African diaspora as a cultural force. Often inspired by his quotidian wanderings, he creates art that situates itself as a series of meditations on the everyday. He received his B.A. in Film and Media Arts from Temple University and his M.F.A in Film & Interdisciplinary Art at Bard College. Ephraim’s art has been exhibited in festivals and venues all over the world, including the New York Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, the Berlinale, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. His 2020 feature debut The Inheritance premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and was later acquired by the Whitney Museum of American Art.

In 2021 Ephraim was the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship. And in 2022 he was commissioned by Louis Vuitton to direct two projects, a short film, Strange Math, and the live stream broadcast of their 2023 Men’s Spring/Summer fashion show. In 2023 he was awarded a Radcliffe Fellowship at Harvard University. Ephraim currently serves as the Director of the Film & Electronic Arts at Bard College, where he is also an Associate Professor.