Arthur Jafa: A Unique Exhibition

Love is the Message, The Message is Death (2016) & The White Album (2018)

For more than three decades, Arthur Jafa, a visual artist, director and award-winning cinematographer, has developed powerful artworks that refer to and question representations of blackness and whiteness. His work has been on view in museums, at film festivals and in art centers worldwide. For the first time, De Balie Amsterdam screens two of Jafa’s recent installations together: Love is the Message, The Message is Death (2016) and The White Album (2018). This unique exhibition, from 20 to 25 June, is free of charge. De Balie will also organize a topical conversation with artists Charl Landvreugd, Iris Kensmil and Raul Balai about their work on Sunday 21 June at 20.00


You can also reserve a spot at the main entrance. Admission to the exhibition is free.

Arthur Jafa (b. 1960, Tulepo, Mississippi) is an artist, filmmaker and cinematographer. Across three decades, Jafa has developed a dynamic practice comprising films, artifacts 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?

About Arthur Jafa’s work

Love is the Message, The Message is Death (2016) is a masterful 7-minute video of found footage that traces African-American identity through a vast spectrum of contemporary imagery. From photographs of civil rights leaders watermarked with “Getty Images” to helicopter views of the LA Riots to a wave of bodies dancing to “The Dougie”. While Love Is The Message poignantly embodies the artist’s desire to create a cinema that “replicates the power, beauty and alienation of Black Music,” it is also a reminder that the collective multitude defining Blackness is comprised of singular individuals, manifold identities and their unaccountable differences.

The White Album (2018) is an unsparing portrait of whiteness in contemporary America. In a 30-minute film Jafa weaves together Internet testimonials, broadcast clips, music videos, and amateur home videos to form an audiovisual tapestry of race relations in America. Under Jafa’s lens, but from two angles, we see that neither experience can be understood in isolation from one another.

This exhibition is a cooperation of Hartwig Art Foundation, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and De Balie.

Arthur JafaVisual artist, director and award-winning cinematographer

Photo: Nathanael Turner

Courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York/Rome