Arthur Jafa A Series of Utterly Improbable, Yet Extraordinary Renditions

J.J. Charlesworth finds an underlying pessimism in the artist’s inquiry into ‘black aesthetics’

By J.J. Charlesworth

Ming Smith, Mother and Child, Harlem, NY, 1977, 1997, vintage gelatin silver print. Courtesy the artist and Steven Kasher Gallery, New York Arthur Jafa, Monster, 1989, digital c-print. Courtesy the artist and Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, New York & Rome

Serpentine Sackler Gallery, London, 8 June – 10 September 2017 There are black bodies everywhere in filmmaker Arthur Jafa’s exhibition-installation – bodies that are, on one hand, the objects of violence, and on the other the subjects of aesthetic performance. Jafa, whose recent rise to attention in contemporary art follows a long career in independent film, here presents a ‘mix’ of his own work with that of other artists, including Frida Orupabo and Ming Smith; an installation that is as…

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