Power 100

Most influential people in 2021 in the contemporary artworld


Arthur Jafa

Artist - American artist and filmmaker shaping the trajectory of Black art

20 in 2021

  • 202120
  • 20206
  • 201934
  • 201887
  • 201781
  • 2016
  • 2015
  • 2014
  • 2013
  • 2012
  • 2011
  • 2010
  • 2009
  • 2008
  • 2007
  • 2006
  • 2005
  • 2004
Photo: Robert Hamacher. Courtesy the artist and Gladstone Gallery

The artist’s new film is a more abstract affair than Love is the Message, The Message is Death (2016), his now ubiquitous montage of footage chronicling Black experience in America: AGHDRA (2021), which showed in New York, is an 85-minute CGI epic that traces a sun rising and setting over an ocean that solidifies in a slowly unravelling and unending catastrophe. ‘I’m so saturated with anti-Blackness. I hear a tsunami of microaggressions,’ Jafa said in an interview, while referencing thinkers (and friends) like Saidiya Hartman and Fred Moten as inspirations for the film. Meanwhile, the artist received his first retrospective at the Louisiana Museum of Art in Denmark, a career-spanning installation at the Glenstone museum, Maryland, and a solo at Gladstone Gallery, featuring a series of new wall-based sculptures with pipes and textile arranged into gunlike forms, together with photographs. Among his many group shows, his work was in Grief and Grievance at the New Museum, New York, the last project of late curator Okwui Enwezor.

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