Chicago - Exhibition

Prisoner of Love

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

26 Jan 201927 Oct 2019

The collective exhibition “Prisoner of Love” revolves around life’s heights and depths, exploring the most intense emotions which characterise human experience. The exhibition focuses, in particular, on MCA’s new acquisitions which rotate around two main centrepieces. The first is the video work by artist Arthur Jafa “Love Is the Message, the Message Is Death”, which celebrates the African-American experience in the 20th and 21st centuries retraced through a turbulent editing. The resulting film is obtained by the artist from the non-linear juxtaposition of found footage recording random scenes, such as Notorious B.I.G. freestyling, Barack Obama singing Amazing Grace or Civil Rights-era clashes, and original images by Jafa’s himself.  Besides this piece, the exhibition opens with a striking neon sculpture by Bruce Nauman which proposes a neon cycle of stark opposites: life and death, love and hate, and pleasure and pain. Other highlights of the exhibition are rotating installations from the MCA’s collections such as Kerry James Marshall‘s “Souvenir I2, Michael Armitage‘s “The Flaying of Marsyas”, Deana Lawson‘s “Sons of Cush” and Glenn Ligon‘s “Untitled (Study #1 for Prisoner of Love)” which gives name to the exhibition.

  • Deana Lawson, Deana Lawson, "Sons of Cush", 2016, Courtesy of the artist and Rhona Hoffman Gallery.

Related Artists


Naomi Beckwith

Special Events

Destination: Chicago
Where: Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
Type: Guided Tour

MCA Senior Curator Naomi Beckwith leads an in-depth tour of the exhibition
Admission free with museum ticket.

Destination: Chicago
Where: Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
Type: Talk

Naomi Beckwith leads a conversation with local media scholars to consider the ways in which the artist and filmmaker Arthur Jafa mines imagery from popular media to tell the story of a contemporary black experience.
Admission free with museum ticket.


Contacts & Details

tue, fri 10:00 am - 9:00 pm; wed, thu, sat, sun 10:00 am - 5:00 pm



T: 312 280 2660 W: MCA
220 E Chicago Ave Chicago, 60611 USA