Arthur Jafa’s masterpiece Love is the Message to be streamed for free on Tate’s website for 48 hours

15 museums from around the world including Hirshhorn Museum, Stedelijk Museum, Luma Arles and Luma Westbau, are broadcasting the powerful film this weekend.

26 June 2020

Arthur Jafa’s seminal video piece Love is the Message, The Message is Death debuted in 2016 to international acclaim. In a new collaboration with the artist, Tate is one of 15 museums around the world broadcasting the powerful film for free. Available to view on Tate’s website from 7pm on Friday 26 June, viewers will have 48 hours to watch the film with the stream ending on Sunday 28 June 2020.

The seven-minute film by the American artist instantly struck a chord with audiences when it was first released. A visual collage of found and original footage, accompanied by Kanye West’s Ultralight Beam, the poignant film highlights historic and contemporary violence inflicted on Black communities in America by individuals and institutions alike. Compressing a myriad of Black realities into the powerful film, Jafa’s artwork oscillates between horror and celebration, capturing the psychological and cultural nuances of Black identity in America.

After Love is the Message, The Message is Death incited mass engagement and attention beyond its release, Jafa spoke of his suspicions surrounding the film’s hype by predominantly white audiences. Suspecting it as a performative response, in turn the artist’s follow-up piece commented on the inauthenticity of this context. The White Album was released two year’s later from Love is the Message, The Message is Death in 2018 and both film’s feature on the artnet’s The 100 Works of Art That Defined the Decade.

Featuring scenes of religious ecstasy, athletic prowess, poetic and musical performance, Jafa has described the piece as “a Black display of Black excellence.” In a statement, he added, “I am thrilled for the opportunity, finally, to have as many people as possible see Love is the Message, The Message is Death.” The international stream going live later today is accompanied by other cultural institutions which also acquired the work.

Tate obtained an edition of the film for its collection in 2018, showing at Tate Liverpool a year later. To accompany the stream, two roundtable panel discussions convened by the artist will take place at moderated by Tina Campt. Elsewhere, other institutions also streaming the artwork include: Hirshhorn Museum, Sculpture Garden, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Dallas Museum of Art, Glenstone Museum, High Museum of Art in Atlanta, LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art, Studio Museum, Julia Stoschek Collection, Luma Arles and Luma Westbau, Pinault Collection, Palazzo Grassi and Stedelijk Museum.

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Photo by Nathanael Turner. Courtesy the artist and Gavin Brown's enterprise, New York Rome

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Jyni Ong

Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor. Feel free to drop Jyni a note if you have an exciting story for the site.

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