Exhibit - Multimedia | December 12, 2018 – March 24, 2019 every day | Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
Arthur Jafa is an artist, director, editor, and award-winning cinematographer whose poignant work expands the concept of black cinema while exploring African American experience and race relations in everyday life. He has stated, I have a very simple mantra and its this: I want to make black cinema with the power, beauty, and alienation of black music. In his renowned work Love Is The Message, The Message Is Death (2016), he rendered a masterful compilation of found footage set to Kanye Wests transcendent, gospel-inspired hip-hop track Ultralight Beam. The result was a meticulously edited seven-minute montage that surveys African American identity through a vast spectrum of imagery, drawing from media sources such as the news, photography, the Internet, and television. Intercutting segments of his own footage with more well-known pictures from the civil rights era, recent scenes of police brutality, and iconic clips of extraordinary athleticism, Jafa established an emotional undercurrent for this complex terrain of cultural representation. In effect, the work is a testament to the emancipatory power of moving-image production.
MATRIX 272 features both a gallery installation and two evening programs of video screenings in BAMPFAs Barbro Osher Theater. In the theater, videos Jafa has made over the last decade, including the documentary essay Dreams Are Colder Than Death (2013), screen alongside work he has selected made by others. The exhibition also debuts a newly commissioned video, The White Album (2018), on view in BAMPFAs galleries. If Love Is The Message trained Jafas scrutiny on black experience, The White Album shifts his lens to white experience, acknowledging that neither can be understood in isolation from the another. Again, he combines imagery from a wide array of sources, from music videos to confessionals posted to YouTube, to produce a trenchant examination of race relations in the United States. A series of source books that Jafa has been assembling since the 1980s is displayed outside the gallery, providing insight into the artists poetic approach to collage and image collection.
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