Visiting Artist Arthur Jafa: 'Dreams are Colder than Death'

Visiting Artist Arthur Jafa: 'Dreams are Colder than Death'

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CalArts Campus

Bijou Auditorium

The Office of the President and The School of Film/Video are proud to welcome The Herb Alpert Award in the Arts 2018 Film/Video recipient, artist, filmmaker and theorist Arthur Jafa for a special screening on Friday April 19, 4:00-7:00 pm at the Bijou Auditorium.

Jafa will introduce and discuss his film Dreams are colder than Death (52’, 2014), as well as Edward O Bland: The Cry of Jazz (34’, 1959).

The screening is open to the entire institute.

Jafa is in residence at CalArts April 15-19.

For three decades Arthur Jafa has developed a dynamic practice across mediums such as film, sculpture and performance. Throughout his career, he has been invested in black modes of expressivity, and his work has been preoccupied with the challenge of how to render the world (visually, conceptually, culturally, idiomatically) from the vantage of black being – in all of its joy, horror, beauty, pain, virtuosity, alienation, power and magic.

Much of Jafa’s practice has been in contention with the “images of blackness” that have existed in the world. Working with compendiums that he has been assembling since the 1980s, he brings together images created of, by and against the black body. His use of found footage in combination with “bespoke” images is grounded in the black tendency to favor “treatment over material” and to privilege the idea of artwork that functions at the interstices of an individual and collective stream of consciousness. Echoing both the power and alienation of black being in equal measure, Jafa’s creations mirror the lived philosophy of black people.

Renowned for his cinematography – on Julie Dash’s pioneering film Daughters of the Dust (1991 – for which he won the “Best Cinematography Award” at Sundance), Jafa has exhibited his work at the MET, the Hammer, Gavin Brown Enterprises and all throughout Europe, at institutions such as the Serpentine Gallery in London, the Julia Stoschek Collection, etc.

Dreams are colder than Death is an experimental documentary/essay film that leverages a reflection on the legacy of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream speech,” to pose more fundamental and pressing questions: “what is the concept of blackness? Where did it come from? What does it mean for people of color living in America today?”

Filmed in Chicago and finished in 1959, The Cry of Jazz is filmmaker, composer and arranger Edward O. Bland's polemical essay on the politics of music and race: a forecast of what he called "the death of jazz."