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Jafa’s ‘Love is the Message, The Message is Death’ Left Me Speechless

collage of clips from love is the message, the message is death film

Let’s take a trip down memory lane. In 2017, I would visit the Hirshhorn Museum weekly. I loved visiting the museum because I love art and museums hold every medium of art that exists.  Although I went to the museum often, I would always see something new that I missed the week before. I usually did not go to the lower level of the museum, but I did this visit, and I was pleasantly surprised. As I walked down the escalator, I admired the huge typography installment by Barbara Kruger that covers the walls and the floor of the lower level. Then, I heard Chance the Rapper singing off in the distance. (It was just a record. He was not there). At the time Chance released his mixtape, Coloring Book which automatically made him my favorite artist at the time. So, I followed the music into Arthur Jafa’s Love is the Message, The Message is Death exhibit.

The music attracted me to the exhibit and the film made me stay. I stood there and watched the film 3 times, and I still left the exhibit unable to describe what I just saw. I even invited friends to the museum to get their opinion on the film. We were all left speechless. Even to this day, it is hard to describe everything that I saw, but I will give it a try.

Jafa’s Love is the Message, The Message is Death was a film that used imagery to depict significant events associated with the Black American experience. The film was a conglomeration of images flashing across the screen as Kanye West’s Ultralight Beam track played in the background. There were images of women dancing. There were images of viral videos. There were images of social resistance. There were images of police brutality. There were images of Black trauma. There were images of Black joy.


Check out clips of Jafa’s Love is the Message, The Message is Death exhibit here

Leave a comment on your interpretation of the film.


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