Love is the Message has been shown everywhere from Sant’Andrea de Scaphis in Rome to the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston and turned Jafa into a reluctant art-world celebrity. But never mind the accolades. The work’s true import is visceral and personal. It compresses, over seven transcendent minutes, all the joy and pain of the black experience. It bends space and time and splices past and present the same way the pioneering African-American DJ Larry Levan — one of Jafa’s touchstones — dropped the soul tracks he grew up with at 1970s nightclub Paradise Garage. Or later, modern hip-hop greats such as Kendrick Lamar would sample the funk legends that ruled the same era. For Jafa, music has always been the truest expression of identity.
– Was such an honour to talk art and aesthetics with artist Arthur Jafa for a long-form profile in The Sydney Morning Herald’s SPECTRUM section last weekend. Jafa’s time and space-defying short film Love is the Message, the Message is Death screened here in Sydney as part of Vivid and it’s proof of what can happen when you place images together in quick succession. You can read the piece here.