Avenir Magazine
Avenir Magazine | Art The Future

Arthur Jafa

 

Arthur Jafa


Arthur Jafa, Monster, 1988 Images courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York/Rome

Arthur Jafa, Monster, 1988
Images courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York/Rome

 

Spreading the Message  

Follow the stairs in the middle of the art hub 180 The Strand, all the way up to the rooftop in a small dark room. There you will find Arthur Jafa's highly anticipated 'Love is the Message, the Message is Death.' 

Both love and death are a few of the realities you'll see in Jafa's, installation which is co-presented by the Serpentine Galleries and The Vinyl Factory. It features audio from the likes of Kanye West and Justin Bieber – a chopped and screwed mix of famous clips of Barack Obama and racially motivated attacks on African – Americans in the US. 

Jafa is calm, collected he says this (the art world) is rather new to him.  

 

Space

It's cool we originally conceived showing love is the message in a tent, it was meant to travel around various housing estates in London but that turned out to be very complicated. The Vinly Factory offered a beautiful space downstairs but it wasn’t available  till March, we were looking around for space and I got on the roof and said can we have this space and they said yes. It can up spontaneously but I'm really happy with it. 

 
Photo: Hugo Glendinning Arthur Jafa, Love is the Message, the Message is Death, 2016. Installation view at Store Studios, London, co-presented by the Serpentine Galleries and The Vinyl Factory. Image courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York/ Rome.

Photo: Hugo Glendinning
Arthur Jafa, Love is the Message, the Message is Death, 2016. Installation view at Store Studios, London, co-presented by the Serpentine Galleries and The Vinyl Factory. Image courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York/ Rome.


 

Black Artist

I don’t have any problem being addressed as a black artist. I was talking to this woman earlier and she brought up Kerry James Marshall, I've known him for a very long time. One of the same things that we share is that black anything is not now, it's how people react to it. For example Greek or Roman sculptures of a male figure pointing at the sky and everybody will get that, if you take that same figure and spray paint it black everybody will narrow it down.  

For us it was really important to resist this whole idea that black anything is necessarily narrow. It's only narrow if the person viewing it understands blackness as narrow. That’s why I am constantly referring to music – nobody will say Jimmy Hendrix is less because he is black. 

So Kerry (James Marshall) for example his work is committed to the black figure, he doesn't feel like it narrows, it clearly is what it is – he uses black figures and it certainly hasn't hurt his career. 

We know we don't want to be slaves but we also don't want to be mass, so where do we land? 

We want the best work that we can possibly do to be appreciated. The same opportunity to be appreciated like anybody else. I don’t want to be constraint.  

 

Politics and Art

It's not like I am a political artist or I am not a political artist - I am everything that I am. 
I do what I do and I don't worry about how people characterise it. 

 

 
Photo: Hugo Glendinning Arthur Jafa, Love is the Message, the Message is Death, 2016. Installation view at Store Studios, London, co-presented by the Serpentine Galleries and The Vinyl Factory. Image courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York/ Rome.

Photo: Hugo Glendinning
Arthur Jafa, Love is the Message, the Message is Death, 2016. Installation view at Store Studios, London, co-presented by the Serpentine Galleries and The Vinyl Factory. Image courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York/ Rome.

 

What is The Message

I do not know what the reaction will be when people (the public) view it... 
... Love is the Message; the Message is Death. 

 

VANESSA POWER


Arthur Jafa: Love is the Message, the Message is Death
Presented by serpentine galleries and the vinyl factory
Store studios, 180 the strand
5 Oct 2017 - 12:00 PM to 10 Dec 2017 - 6:00 PM