Love is the Message, The Message is Death

Arthur Jafa’s Renowned “Love is the Message, The Message is Death” to Be Streamed Continuously Online for the First Time, June 26–28

The Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) will join 13 institutions across the world in hosting a 48-hour live streaming of Arthur Jafa’s renowned film Love is the Message, The Message is Death beginning Friday, June 26, at 1:00 p.m. CDT at This event marks the first time the artist has authorized showing the video outside of a museum or gallery setting.

“I am thrilled for the opportunity, finally, to have as many people as possible see Love is The Message, The Message is Death,” says Jafa.

Love is the Message, The Message is Death (2016) was acquired by the DMA in 2017 and was the centerpiece of the DMA’s exhibition Truth: 24 frames per second, a survey of the Museum’s film and video collection. The video offers a powerfully moving montage of original and appropriated footage—set to Kanye West’s gospel-inflected song “Ultralight Beam”—that explores the mix of joy and pain, transcendence and tragedy that characterizes the Black American experience. Extolled by The New Yorker as “required viewing,” the film points to the ongoing violence and racism against Black
people that is foundational to US history and continues to play out in the present. It also shows how Black Americans have taken these experiences and created cultural, political, and aesthetic achievements that are intrinsic to the national identity.

The work has particular resonance for the North Texas community. Among the footage Jafa repurposes in the seven-and-a-half-minute film is that of a white police officer violently pushing a 15-year-old Black teenager to the ground during a 2015 pool party in McKinney. Since the work was created, 15-year-old Jordan Edwards was murdered by a Balch Springs police officer, and Botham Jean and Atatiana Jefferson were killed in their homes by Dallas and Fort Worth police, respectively.

“Not only does the film have incredible national relevance during this pivotal moment of reckoning with systemic racism, but it has powerful resonance locally through its depiction of brutal events that took place in our own community. We look forward to sharing this work with an even wider audience following its 2017 presentation at the DMA,” added Dr. Anna Katherine Brodbeck, Hoffman Family Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at the DMA.

Two roundtable panel discussions convened by the artist will take place on Saturday, June 27, immediately after the end of the streaming, and on Sunday, June 28, at 1:00 p.m. CDT on Participants on Saturday will be Peter L’Official, Josh Begley, Eleeza Kelley, and Thomas Lax, moderated by Tina Campt, and Sunday’s participants will be Aria Dean, Rashaad Newsome, Isis Pickens, and Simone White, also moderated by Tina Campt.

About the Artist
Arthur Jafa (b. 1960, Tupelo, Mississippi) is an artist, filmmaker, and cinematographer. Across three decades, Jafa has developed a dynamic practice comprising films, artefacts, and happenings that reference and question the universal and specific articulations of Black being. Underscoring the many facets of Jafa’s practice is a recurring question: how can visual media, such as objects and static and moving images, transmit the equivalent “power, beauty and alienation” embedded within forms of Black music in US culture?

Jafa’s films have garnered acclaim at the Los Angeles, New York, and Black Star Film Festivals, and his artwork is represented in celebrated collections worldwide, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, Tate, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Studio Museum in Harlem, High Museum in Atlanta, Dallas Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Stedelijk, LUMA Foundation, Perez Art Museum in Miami, Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and Smithsonian American Art Museum, among many others.

Jafa has recent and forthcoming exhibitions of his work at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archives; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Fundação de Serralves, Porto; the 22nd Biennale of Sydney; and the Louisiana Museum of Art, Denmark. In 2019 he received the Golden Lion at the 58th Venice Biennale for the Best Participant in the international exhibition, “May You Live in Interesting Times.”