Look Closer

Arthur Jafa Love is the Message, The Message is Death

This work is a powerful meditation on racism and Black pain, creativity and Black resilience

Content warning: This film includes footage of racist violence against Black people

In collaboration with the artist, Tate is streaming Love is the Message, The Message is Death from the collection, acquired in 2018 and shown at Tate Liverpool in 2019. The video is also in the collection of several international museums who are streaming it at the same time.

Jafa’s work is a seven-minute video made up of clips collaged from original and found footage. Distressing scenes of historic and contemporary violence inflicted on Black Americans by individuals and institutions are woven with scenes of religious ecstasy, athletic prowess, poetic and musical performance – what Jafa has called ‘a Black display of Black excellence.’

I am thrilled for the opportunity, finally, to have as many people as possible see Love is the Message, The Message is Death
Arthur Jafa

To accompany the stream, two roundtable panel discussions convened by the artist will take place.

Panel 1
19.10 BST Saturday 27 June
With Peter L'Official, Josh Begley, Elleza Kelley and Thomas Lax. Moderated by Tina Campt.

Panel 2
19.10 BST Sunday 28 June
With Aria Dean, Rashaad Newsome, Isis Pickens and Simone White. Moderated by Tina Campt.

Alongside Tate the other participating museums screening this work are the Dallas Museum of Art; Glenstone Museum; High Museum of Art in Atlanta; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Studio Museum in Harlem; Julia Stoschek Collection Berlin; Luma Arles and Luma Westbau; Pinault Collection in Paris and Palazzo Grassi in Venice; Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC and Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.

The stream starts on Friday 26 June at 19.00 BST and concludes 48 hours later.

Arthur Jafa (b. 1960, Tupelo, Mississippi) is an artist, filmmaker and cinematographer. Across three decades, Jafa has developed a dynamic practice comprising films, artefacts and happenings that reference and question the universal and specific articulations of Black being. Underscoring the many facets of Jafa’s practice is a recurring question: how can visual media, such as objects, static and moving images, transmit the equivalent 'power, beauty and alienation' embedded within forms of Black music in US culture?

Jafa’s films have garnered acclaim at the Los Angeles, New York and Black Star Film Festivals and his artwork is represented in celebrated collections worldwide including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, Tate, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Studio Museum in Harlem, The High Museum Atlanta, The Dallas Museum of Art, The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, The Stedelijk, LUMA Foundation, The Perez Art Museum Miami, Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, among many others.

Jafa has recent and forthcoming exhibitions of his work at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archives; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Fundação de Serralves, Porto; the 22nd Biennale of Sydney and the Louisiana Museum of Art, Denmark. In 2019, he received the Golden Lion for the Best Participant of the 58th Venice Biennale May You Live in Interesting Times.

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