A confrontational stand-up cutout image of the comic book character the Incredible Hulk rendered at human scale, LeRage (2017) is a kind of self-portrait by artist, filmmaker, and cinematographer Arthur Jafa. This work builds on the artist’s childhood fascination with science fiction films, comics, and fanzines while exploring his complex identification with the characters who inhabit them.
Over the past three decades, Jafa has boldly confronted the relationship between visual culture and blackness in his works. Often drawing content from an archive of images and video clips culled from popular magazines, books, media, and digital platforms like YouTube, Jafa embraces a complex approach to authorship and legitimacy. The visual experiences he creates seek to, in his words, “replicate the power, beauty, and alienation of black music.”
Arthur Jafa (b. 1960, Tupelo, Mississippi) has exhibited his work at film festivals and art institutions worldwide. He has been honored with solo exhibitions at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, Quebec (2020); Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark (2020); Palazzo Madama, Turin (2019); Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2019); and Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (2018), among others. He has participated in various group exhibitions, including shows at the Punta della Dogana, Venice (2020); Museum of Modern Art, New York (2019); and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2018). Jafa received the Golden Lion Award at the 58th Venice Biennale (2019) as well as the Best Documentary Feature for his film Dreams are Colder than Death (2014) at the BlackStar Film Festival, Philadelphia. He also directed the videos for Solange Knowles’s “Don’t Touch My Hair” and “Cranes in the Sky” (both 2016), and Jay-Z’s “4:44” (2017).