In Adam's Words...


Gaawiin aapiji ninitaa-anishinaabemowin. Ninga-gagwejitoon ji anishinaabemowin. Aanii boozhoo, Adam Khalil indizhinikaaz, Shingwak anishinaabe-izhinikaazowin. Gaawiin ningikenimaasii nindoodem. Bahweting indoonjibaa, Brooklyn, NY nindaa.

Translation: “I don’t know how to talk Anishinaabemowin very much. I’ll try talking Anishinaabemowin. Hello my given name is Adam Khalil, Shiingwak is my Anishinaabe name. I don’t know my clan. I’m from Bahweting, or what's currently called Sault Ste. Marie, MI, and I now live in Brooklyn, NY.


My practice is collaborative. There are multiple collaborations and multiple roles within each. Every collaboration shares similar themes and sometimes forms - they tend to bleed into one another - that’s when I know it’s getting good!

To center my role in all of these collaborations is antithetical to the impetus of this practice so applying for this award was difficult. But it was also a meaningful moment to reflect on the multitude of mutable and asymmetrical collaborative roles. My interest in collaboration is to make my work and my collaborators work better. It’s too hard to make things alone (in my opinion),  and I intend to continue working collaboratively and expand the group of collaborators. I hope this gesture emphasizes the work we produce and not prevailing trends that prop up individualism and auteurism that runs rampant in film and art circles.

Collectively, our work seeks to devise dexterous and unlikely conceptual frameworks to unpack, rearrange, and even parody the contradictions, missteps, and trauma which characterize the history of the colonial project since 1492. We question the safe stagnation of normative attitudes towards these difficult topics; and instead attempt to scaffold toward more conceptually generative understandings of how ‘identity’ and ‘history’ are conveyed and configured within our contemporary understandings of decolonization, reconciliation, and settler-colonialism.

I’ve gotten ahead of myself.  I want to take a moment to acknowledge and introduce the community of collaborators who are like my family.

A to Z: Adam and Zack

First, quite literally my family: my brother Zack. The two of us have been working together for 10 years but we’ve known eachother much longer :) Our work centers Indigenous narratives in the present—and looks towards the future—through the use of innovative nonfiction forms.

Our first feature documentary INAATE/SE/ (2016) grew out of grief.  Allison Krebs- our mom - Ally for short, passed away in 2013. A lifelong learner, educator, and poet - she was in the process of completing her PhD dissertation in Library Science focusing on the need to shift control of Indigenous knowledge from archives and museums back to the communities they come from. Ally meant so much to us and our community (Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians). She was the Director of Youth Education & Activities for our tribe and tirelessly advocated for the youth in our community. Her intellect, independence, openness, and love shaped me and my brother, as well as multiple generations of young people in our tribe. To continue her work, process our loss,  and reconnect with our community -  Zack and I set out to make a movie. 

We did not always know what the movie would be, but we trusted in our intention. Making work for and about our community led us to reject the imperative of efficient extraction of information in favor of an open-ended, time intensive, community based approach.

In close collaboration with members of our community and family including Richard Lewis, Stephanie Krebs, Adele Easterday, Dave Houghton, Alicia Gervais, Darrell Labranche, Colleen St. Onge, Cecil Pavlat, Harlan Downwind, Pauline Andrews, Jacque Clark, and many more, over the course of four years our creative process pushed towards new forms of image making that better reflected Anishinabe epistemology in the hopes of developing an inherently Anishinabe cinematic language.

This approach to filmmaking continues to be guiding principles in our practice as we reach mid-completion on our new feature documentary, "Aanikobijigan". The film follows eleven Indigenous repatriation specialists that make up the Michigan Anishinaabek Cultural Preservation & Repatriation Alliance (MACPRA) fighting to return and rebury ancestors from settler-colonial libraries, archives, and museums. Through an essayistic approach, the film will lay bare the history of Indigenous collections, the laws passed to ensure return of human remains and funerary objects, and vérité portraits of the righteous and courageous individuals doing the hard and emotionally draining work of bringing our ancestors back home.

Public Secret Society: New Red Order (NRO)

Now we extend the collaborative-familial network to introduce New Red Order (NRO) - a public secret society that subversively yet earnestly interrogates desires—individual and collective— towards Indigeneity.  Supported by core contributors Zack Khalil, Jackson Polys, Suzanne Kite, and myself - NRO deploys elements of time-based media including video and sound, along with sculpture, installation, and performance.

NRO examines the dynamics influencing the conditions in which the concerns of Indigenous people are often treated as a topic du jour and then co-opted by non-indigenous people, along with the search for ways to make amends. We call attraction toward indigeneity into question, yet promote this desire, and enjoin potential non-Indigenous accomplices to participate in the co-examination and expansion of Indigenous agency.

Collaborations multiply as an expanding roster of interdisciplinary ‘informants’ and ‘accomplices’ weave in and out of alignment to co-produce video, performance, and installation work that confronts settler colonial tendencies and potential obstacles to Indigenious growth.

Frequent ‘accomplices’ include but are not limited to: Jim Fletcher, Ashley Byler, Bayley Sweitzer, Jeremy Pheiffer, Rezarta Seferi,  Rose Mori, Emily Allan, Virgil B/G Taylor, Gaile Pranckunaite, and Mitch Anzouni.

As a ‘public secret society’ membership is always open to all, and you too can join New Red Order by calling 1-888-NEW-RED1 or visiting

Trojan Horsey: Bayley + Adam

Bayley Sweitzer has been a frequent ‘accomplice’ and confidant on many NRO projects in myriad ways. Additionally, Bayley and I collaborate together to make narrative feature films charged with political urgency.

Our collaborative practice seeks to utilize the conventions of filmmaking in order to subvert those very conventions, to create space for a new kind of film: one that can weave together narrative, documentary, and experimental forms while still presenting a cohesive, entertaining, and thought provoking “movie” experience for a wide audience. We feel there is a responsibility to accessibility when making political art and film. We aim for the work to function as a Trojan horse, packaging radical political proposals within the familiar forms of accessible genre film.

Shooting, editing, and writing cyclically at the same time and over the course of multiple years allows for taking risks and learning from mistakes while deep in the process; we try to grow the film rather than hammer it into existence.

Embracing genre tropes, humor, sincerity, and diligent research, our collaborative practice hopes to prompt audiences to expand their political imagination towards a speculative future - or past - which we all would like to inhabit.

Through continued work with an expanding collaborative constellation, we have sought to deliberately blur the distinction between roles of traditional film projects. In an anarchist manner, the means will be consistent with our ends.

Bayley’s and my first feature film Empty Metal (2018), reveals an extended collaborative kinship network. The cast in the film are some of the most inspiring artists, musicians, and writers within our Brooklyn artistic community, more importantly our closest friends and sometimes even roommates. Over the course of four years and frequent feedback Rose Mori, Austin Sley-Julian, Sam Richardson, Pawel Wojtaski, Oba, Alex Esco,  Luwayne Glass, Leila Bordreuil,  Doug Hock, Steve Holmgren, Tiffany Sia, and more helped shape and bring the film into the world. I’m so unbelievably appreciative to be a part of this artistic community.


Bayley and I are currently expanding our cinematic universe and making a new film with Oba - another frequent collaborator, honorary uncle, artist, musician, and actor who played ‘King Alpha’ in Empty Metal. We are working together on a new anti-colonial Rasta vampire movie titled Nosferasta. Spanning 500 years of colonial destruction, Nosferasta tells the story of Oba, a Rastafarian vampire, and Christopher Columbus, Oba’s original biter, as they spread the colonial infection throughout the “new world.” Formally a vampire film and series of installations, the stylistically impressionistic Nosferasta examines the guilt of being complicit in imperial conquest, while also acknowledging the difficulty of unlearning centuries of vampiric conditioning. At its core Nosferasta asks, ‘how can you decolonize what’s in your blood?’The first iteration of this project will be exhibited as an installation at GasWorks in the UK in the Fall of 2021.


Part of my belief in collaborative kinship hinges on the need for it to be intergenerational and across discipline. As a co-founder (alongside Sky Hopinka, Alex Lazarowich and Adam Piron) of Cousin Collective - an Indigenous led non-profit created to provide support for Indigenous artists that expand traditional definitions and understandings of the moving image by experimenting with form and genre -  I’m ecstatic to see the rising voice of Indigenous artists pushing formal boundaries across image making.


The privilege of being a mentor and a mentee continues to sustain my practice. Although the terms don’t quite suffice - so I coined the term ‘friendtor’ (friend + mentor) to describe the tone these relationships strike.

I’ve been extremely fortunate to have had the continuing guidance, critical engagement, and good times with Peggy Ahwesh, Les Leveque, Laura Parnes, Anton Vidokle, Craig Baldwin, Martha Rosler, Pawel Wojtaski, Christopher Allen, Elizabeth Weatherford, Dave Houghton, Richard Lewis, Toby Lee, Manthia Diawara, James Fotopolous,  Steve Holmgren, Matt Porterfield, Keith Sanborn, Adele Easterday,   and many many more. These friendtor’s generosity and insight has left an indelible mark on how I see the world.

I am so thankful to have also collaborated with Carolyn Lazard, Sarah Kerr, Josh Solondz, Juan Daniel F. Molero, Walter Scott, Maria Meinild, Samuli Haavisto, Adam Piron, Anton Vidokle, Mariana Silva, Tiffany Sia, and Pedro Neves Marques in different capacities - they are all artists whose practices continue to inspire me.

New Red Order
still from "Never Settle"

from New Red Order's "Never Settle: The Program"
2020, 50 min. An initiation video for New Red Order, a public secret society that simultaneously satirizes and sincerely engages with efforts for solidarity and the desire for Indigenous epistemologies.
from New Red Order's "Never Settle: The Program"
2020, 50 min. An initiation video for New Red Order, a public secret society that simultaneously satirizes and sincerely engages with efforts for solidarity and the desire for Indigenous epistemologies.
Trailer from INAATE/SE/ [it shines a certain way. to a certain place./it flies. falls./]
film by Adam Khalil and Zack Khalil
INAATE/SE/ [it shines a certain way. to a certain place./it flies. falls./]
INAATE/SE/ [it shines a certain way. to a certain place./it flies. falls./]
New Red Order "Never Settle: Calling In"
New Red Order "Conscientious Conscription"
ew Red Order w/ Virgil B/G Taylor "Progenerator"
Installation at Museum of Contemporary art Detroit (MoCAD)
Empty Metal Trailer
The Violence of a Civilization Without Secrets
from "The Violence of a Civilization without Secrets"
Film by Adam Khalil, Zack Khalil, Jackson Polys

from "The Violence of a Civilization without Secrets"
Film by Adam Khalil, Zack Khalil, Jackson Polys

from "Never Settle"
2020, 50 min. An initiation video for New Red Order, a public secret society that simultaneously satirizes and sincerely engages with efforts for solidarity and the desire for Indigenous epistemologies.
“NRO: Crimes Against Reality”
Installation at Museum of Contemporary art Detroit (MoCAD)