Arthur Jafa’s acclaimed Love Is The Message, The Message Is Death is on show at Tate Liverpool.
The Royal Albert Dock venue is the first gallery in the north of England to present the arwork, a seven-minute video montage of historic and contemporary film footage that traces African American history and experience.
Presented in almost total darkness, visitors will be immersed in the video installation which is accompanied by Kanye West’s gospel-inspired hip-hop track Ultralight Beam, whose lyrics envelop the 58-year-old artist and film-maker’s rapid editing style.
Love is the Message, The Message is Death brings together a host of clips including a Civil Rights march; former US President Barack Obama singing Amazing Grace at the eulogy for the nine Charleston parishioners killed by a white supremacist Martin Luther King waving from the back of a car,; Beyoncé in music video 7/11, and a police officer throwing a teenage girl to the ground at a pool party in Texas.
The images are interspersed by footage shot by Jafa himself, including his daughter’s wedding, his mother dancing, and footage from previous works, mixing his personal experience with a collective one.
The Tupelo, Mississippi-born visual artist says: “I have a very simple mantra and it’s this: I want to make black cinema with the power, beauty, and alienation of black music. That’s my big goal.
“The larger preoccupation is how do we force cinema to respond to the existential, political, and spiritual dimensions of who we are as a people?”
Love Is the Message, The Message is Death is at Tate Liverpool until May 12 and is free.