OGR Torino will be the first Italian institution to dedicate an exhibition to the US-born and based artist and cinematographer Arthur Jafa. Opening at the same time as Artissima, one of the most important art fairs in Italy, RHAMESJAFACOSEYJAFADRAYTON will take place from 4th November 2022 to 15th January 2023. The exhibition, which includes a rich live programme, offers a unique opportunity to explore the career of a crucial figure in contemporary art and culture.
Arthur Jafa, Billboard, Foxy Lady Latour, Arthur Jafa: LIVE EVIL, LUMA Arles, France, April 14 – December 31, 2022; © Arthur Jafa, Courtesy of the artist, LUMA Arles and Gladstone Gallery. Ph: Andrea Rossetti
OGRTorino operated for more than a thousand years as a train repair facility, the largest in Turin in fact. After stopping its activity in 1992, Fondazione CRT bought it in 2013, investing in a major restoration project of the building. From a bygone industrial facility, it eventually became a multipurpose cultural centre, hosting a variety of cutting-edge events, ranging from tech and ‘Metaverse’ festivals to exhibitions by internationally renowned artists.
The show in Turin has been specifically conceived by Jafa for the cathedral-like space of OGR Torino. It showcases some of the most recent works by the artist, some of which have never been shown in Italy before. Commissioned and produced by OGR Torino in collaboration with Serpentine London, it is curated by Claude Adjil and Judith Waldmann, with Hans Ulrich Obrist. RHAMESJAFACOSEYJAFADRAYTON was originally developed with curator Amira Gad, and it is part of the touring exhibition Arthur Jafa: A Series of Utterly Improbable, Yet Extraordinary Renditions, held in 2017 at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery.
Arthur Jafa. Ph: Robert Hamacher. Courtesy the artist and Gladstone Gallery
Jafa is one of the most important artists of his generation. Winner of the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale of 2019 with the work ‘The White Album’, he is a key figure in the investigation and representation of Black culture and dynamics of race and power. The artist has been collating visual information on Black American history, and how it is perceived, since the 1980s. His work, indeed, assembles in an intense collage a plethora of information coming from different sources: from icons and music celebrating Blackness to found footages of police brutality. Put together in a continuous stream of consciousness, Jafa’s videos offer a thorough overview on Black life and history, intertwining high and low, pain and glorification.
The multifaceted production of Jafa together recounts, tackles and questions the predominant views on race and identity. Cutting, pasting and juxtaposing opposing forces and reference points, Jafa’s work creates a dialogue between the alienation of Black life in the West, and the emancipation of Black voices and values. There’s a fundamental question that underlines and links together the varied and versatile production of Jafa, and that is how can art, both in the use of visual media and objects, convey the ideas of power, beauty, and alienation as they are embedded in Black music in the United States? Music, indeed, plays a crucial role in the artist’s work, as it does in Black communities. It becomes a protest, a community, a medium of liberation. The show at OGR pays homage to this aspect already starting from its title that cites three important musicians: the New Yorker multi-instrumentalist Arthur Rhames, the guitarist from Chicago Pete Cosey, and Ronny Drayton, guitarist as well.
RHAMESJAFACOSEYJAFADRAYTON will be accompanied by a live programme, highlighting Jafa’s profound preoccupation with music and the cross-pollination of disciplines and fields. The opening night, the jazz pianist and composer Jason Moran, the cellist and composer Okkyung Lee, and the bassist Melvin Gibbs will play together inside the suggestive space of the OGR Duomo.
An exhibition by OGR Torino in collaboration with Serpentine, London. Curated by Claude Adjil and Judith Waldmann with Hans Ulrich Obrist
Music program curated by Claude Adji Amira Gad originally developed the show
About the artist
Arthur Jafa (b.1960, Tupelo, Mississippi) Jafa’s films have garnered acclaim at the Los Angeles, New York and Black Star Film Festivals. Celebrated collections worldwide represent his artworks, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art; The Museum of Modern Art; The Tate; The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; The Studio Museum in Harlem; The High Museum Atlanta; The Dallas Museum of Art; The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago; Stedelijk, Luma Foundation; The Perez Art Museum Miami; Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art; The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, among others. He has recent and forthcoming solo exhibitions of his work at the Pérez Art Museum Miami; the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archives; Galerie Rudolfinum, Prague; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; the Louisiana Museum of Art, Denmark and LUMA Arles, France. In 2019, he received the Golden Lion for the Best Participant of the 58th Venice Biennale ‘May You Live in Interesting Times’.