MCA Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL, United States 26 Jan 2019 - 27 Oct 2019
Arthur Jafa, Love Is The Message, The Message Is Death, 2016. Video (color, sound); 7 minutes, 25 seconds. Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, anonymous gift to the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, 2017.34. Image courtesy of Arthur Jafa and Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York/Rome.
Love Is The Message, The Message Is Death, by acclaimed artist and filmmaker Arthur Jafa, is a multilayered seven-minute montage of the black experience in America.
The video tells a story of trauma and transcendence in a flurry of footage—from historic speeches by Martin Luther King Jr. and Barack Obama, to clips of cultural icons Beyoncé and Notorious B.I.G., to flashes of concerts, home movies, news footage, music videos, and sports matches—all set to the soaring gospel tones of Kanye West’s Ultralight Beam.
Centered around this filmic journey, the exhibition features a rotating body of work from the MCA’s collection that complements Jafa’s video and captures some of the same intense emotions about life in America today. Powerful, moving works by artists such as Deana Lawson, Glenn Ligon, Kerry James Marshall, Marilyn Minter, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Carrie Mae Weems alternate throughout the run of the show, alongside the mainstay of Bruce Nauman’s iconic Life, Death, Hate, Pleasure, Pain.
The exhibition is curated by Naomi Beckwith, Marilyn and Larry Fields Curator.
It is presented in the Sylvia Neil and Daniel Fischel Galleries on the museum’s second floor.