Power 100

Most influential people in 2023 in the contemporary artworld


Arthur Jafa

Artist - American artist and filmmaker forging a Black multimedia aesthetics

32 in 2023

  • 202332
  • 202226
  • 202120
  • 20206
  • 201934
  • 201887
  • 201781
  • 2016
  • 2015
  • 2014
  • 2013
  • 2012
  • 2011
  • 2010
  • 2009
  • 2008
  • 2007
  • 2006
Courtesy Arthur Jafa and Gladstone Gallery

In January the American filmmaker was ruminating on being a Black artist adored by museums. ‘We could come in there saying, “We just want to be one of the guys, we just want to be a part of the canon,” but they know we don’t know how to do anything but break shit. We come to fuck shit up.’ That fucking up of shit takes the form of mesmerising films concerning Blackness, death and history. At LUMA Westbau, in Zurich, he remixed his 2013 work APEX, slowing down the original eight-minute video collage to 33 minutes and adding accompanying beats by Detroit techno pioneer Robert Hood. A newfound interest in abstraction was present in LOML (2022), which paid homage to the late writer and musician Greg Tate, shown at the Gwangju Biennale. Meanwhile Melbourne audiences got the greatest hits, including Love is the Message, The Message is Death (2016), at the Fiona and Sidney Myer Gallery, and last year’s survey at OGR Torino closed in February. Meanwhile a collaboration with Supreme became mired in controversy when the fashion brand’s creative director departed, citing the company’s ‘systemic racism’.

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