Arthur Jafa is one of the most significant contemporary artists practicing today. Over several decades he has constructed a compelling body of work which defies categorisation. For SloPEX (2022), a slowed-down, modified iteration of his masterpiece APEX (2013), Jafa stretches the original video from 8 minutes 22 seconds to now 105 minutes. Underscored by the beats of Detroit techno pioneer Robert Hood, the sound fills the entire exhibition space and the radical contrast of images, and complexity of associations, are daunting and surprising.
Powerful and lyrical at the same time, his practice combines a profoundly unsettling blend of images and histories from diverse contexts and backgrounds. Bringing together affective memory that touches on matters such as the history of the United States of America, violence, repression, modalities of survival and how these exist in the production and dissemination of images, music, sound and time-based media, Jafa reflects on the ontology of race and of blackness.
Throughout his career, Jafa has been invested in the exploration of strategies for a Black aesthetics, drawing on the experience of being Black in contemporary America and how this relates to life, death and the concept of the human. As one of the most prolific producers of his generation working across many media, he delivers with incomparable precision the power, beauty and contradictions of contemporary society. His work is an essential development to understanding the complexity of racial relationships, the tension between forms of cultural expression and the specificity and energy of Black American culture.