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Arthur Jafa: Works from the MCA Collection

Jun 01, 2024 - Mar 02, 2025

About the Exhibition

Across three decades, artist and filmmaker Arthur Jafa has developed a singularly dynamic practice comprising films and videos, photographs, and sculptures. Through his multidisciplinary work, Jafa seeks to encompass what he describes as “the full complexity, specificity, beauty, and potentiality of what Black folks have made and continue to make out of the bleak existential circumstance we’ve attended to over the past several hundred years.” Utilizing found imagery, music, and artistic techniques such as montage and collage, he has constructed an extensive assemblage of Black expression, layered and arranged in ways that reveal the diverse and complex realities of Black being.

Arthur Jafa: Works from the MCA Collection surveys the artist’s output over roughly the last ten years through a selection of artworks held in the MCA’s collection, including his videos APEX (2013), Love is the Message, The Message is Death (2016), The White Album (2018), and Akingdoncomethas (2018). Accompanying the videos are a few key sculptural and photographic works that further underscore Jafa’s unique approach to visual culture and image making, in which the lines between popular and high culture blur and the personal collides with the political.

Arthur Jafa: Works from the MCA Collection is organized by René Morales, former James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator, and Jack Schneider, Assistant Curator.

About the Artist

Arthur Jafa (b. 1960, Tupelo, MS; lives in Los Angeles, CA) is an artist and filmmaker. 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, the Tate, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Studio Museum in Harlem, the High Museum of Art, the Dallas Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, the Luma Foundation, Pérez Art Museum Miami, Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, among others.

Recent and forthcoming solo exhibitions of Jafa’s work include presentations at Luma Arles, France; Glenstone, Potomac, Maryland; OGR Torino, Italy; Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Serralves, Porto, Portugal; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, 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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Arthur Jafa talks about his practice in this studio visit.
Produced by the MCA


Lead support is provided by the Harris Family Foundation in memory of Bette and Neison Harris, the Zell Family Foundation, and Cari and Michael Sacks.

Major support is provided by R. H. Defares and Agnes Gund.

Generous support is provided by D. Elizabeth Price and Lou Yecies.