Responding to Arthur Jafa’s Love is the Message, The Message is Death”

  • On Thursday, July 9, 2020, the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) hosted a curator-led conversation about Arthur Jafa’s Love is the Message, The Message is Death. His powerful video examination of Black life in America was streamed continuously online by SAAM, the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and eleven other museums and collections for 48 hours beginning June 26, 2020. The video offers a moving montage of original and appropriated footage that explores the mix of joy and pain, transcendence and tragedy that characterize the Black American experience. Viewers' responses to the artwork guided this online conversation with E. Carmen Ramos, acting chief curator and curator of Latinx art at SAAM, Rhea Combs, curator of film and photography at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, and Saisha Grayson, SAAM’s curator of time-based media. Stephanie Stebich, the Margaret and Terry Stent Director at SAAM introduced the program.

    Learn more about the artwork and view selected clips from the video.