Arthur Jafa’s “Love is the Message, the Message is Death” will stream online for 48 hours this weekend.
Installation view of Arthur Jafa’s Love is the Message, the Message is Death (2016) at the Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Courtesy of Arthur Jafa and Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York/Rome. Photo by Cathy Carver.
Arthur Jafa’s critically acclaimed 2016 film, Love is the Message, the Message is Death, will stream for 48 hours this weekend via 13 art institutions around the world, marking the first time the work will be made widely available online. Beginning today at 2 p.m. EDT, each institution will stream the seven-and-a-half-minute video on their respective websites.
Through a montage of both historical and original footage, Love is the Message, the Message is Death, demonstrates the ongoing violence experienced by Black Americans, all set to the song “Ultralight Beam” by Kanye West. Originally debuted at Gavin Brown’s enterprise, the work has been dubbed the most important artwork of the 2010s by ARTnews.
Discussing the work in 2018, Jafa told ARTNews:
I suspected Black people were gonna be moved by it, but I have to say, the most unexpected thing has been how strongly white folks, or nonblack people, have been moved by it. I mean, I don’t get to sit back and be the arbiter of whose response to it is legitimate or not, not at all, but it has been surprising.
The initiative was organized by the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden along with the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The two U.S. institutions jointly acquired the work in 2018. Melissa Chiu, director of the Hirshhorn Museum said:
Love is the Message, the Message is Death is a powerful video art work that offers insight into the experience of being Black in America. It has been phenomenal to work with Arthur Jafa and partner with 12 public and private museums that also hold this important work in their collections. While many museums are closed we’re working together to share this experience with the largest possible audience wherever they may be.
Other participating institutions include the Dallas Museum of Art, the Glenstone Museum, the High Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Tate, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, the Palazzo Grassi, the Punta della Dogana, the Julia Stoschek Collection, and Luma Arles and Luma Westbau.