Arthur Jafa and Sky Hopinka vs. Luma Arles

From Swiss art patron Maja Hoffmann for Luma Arles In a huge former industrial area in the south of France. As she points out on this season’s show, “Arleluma is becoming a place to share unique experiences and perspectives on the current state of the world.”

In fact, the Art Center is now showing a major exhibition of two American multimedia artists who have taken control of their narratives. Each spoke about his special experience living in America and what it means to be part of a community whose voices are largely suppressed. As Arthur Jafa once said, “If you point the camera at the black man, on a psychoanalytic level, even if the black man is standing behind the camera, the camera will act as the white man’s gaze.”

Jafa’s exhibition, titled “Live Evil” (also the title of Miles Davis’ album), is the most comprehensive exhibition of his work to date. Born in 1960 in Tupelo, Mississippi, Jafa has spent most of his career in the shadows, earning a living as a cinematographer for others. In 2016, his seven-minute film finally gained global recognition Love is the message and the message is death, a powerful montage of videos showing different aspects of the black experience, set to Kanye West’s gospel-inspired “Super Light Beam.”A few years later, he turned his attention to whiteness and the limits of sympathy white album, 40 minutes of discovery and original video.It won the Golden Lion in 2019 Venice Biennale (and featured in the Luma Arles exhibition).

silent blue man In “Live Evil”, Arthur Jafa – La Grande Halle, Parc des Ateliers, Luma, Arles, France. Photography: Adrian de Wilt

Unearthing archival photos and footage is an essential part of Jafa’s practice, magnifying or editing them together for disturbing results. One of the first works in the exhibition is a startling photograph of a black student giving a Nazi salute to an American flag. In fact, it was Bellamy’s salute, a gesture that accompanied the American Pledge of Allegiance from 1892 to 1942, until it was adopted by the Third Reich.

Jafa also tells stories of race relations through his sculptures and installations, such as big wheel two (2018), a huge black tire bound by chains; Former Slave Gordon 1863 (2017), a human figure with a scar on its back; and anger (2017) A life-size silhouette of a black Hulk that he considers a self-portrait.

big wheel two, kudzu and Former Slave Gordon 1863 In “Live Evil”, Arthur Jafa – La M canique G n rale, Parc des Ateliers, Luma, Arles, France. Photography: Adrian de Wilt

In the huge space of the Grande Halle in Luma, Agdra is the artist’s starting point, a computer-generated abstract video he will produce in 2021. For 85 minutes, a digital ocean of black lava-like rock moves and churns in undulating waves under the apocalyptic sun, until the booming sound of bass and music twisted by reverb. The effect is both suffocating and mesmerizing, reminiscent of slave ships crossing the Atlantic or the loss of civilization.

If Jafa’s performance was a punch, Sky Hopinka’s performance takes us on an equally disturbing journey, but a little softer. Born in 1984, Hopinka is a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin and a descendant of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño people. He is best known for his experimental films, and, increasingly, photography and poetry, and he calls his style “ethnic poetry”.

“The Sun Comes Anywhere” is the title of the exhibition, which combines Hopinka’s personal story with the collective history of Native Americans. Examining identity and perception, his videos and photos draw on family memories, interviews and travel diaries. They are thoughtful and skilled.

land describes itself In “The Sun Comes Anywhere”, Sky Hopinka – Les Forges, Parc des Ateliers, Luma, Arles, France. Photography: Adrian de Wilt

He is fascinated by language as a vessel for culture, wow wow, his first experimental film, shot in 2013. 6 minutes long and focuses on Chinookwawa, a trade language that originated in the Pacific Northwest and is virtually extinct. Three generations have spoken and talked about this language, and the layers of subtitles reflect the difficulty of translating certain concepts into different languages.

exist Knowledge, from a 2019 video, Hopinka assembles and reassembles fragments of photo transparencies on a projector. We hear him reading his poems aloud, mixing memories and myths (eg, “I killed a spider last night, I seriously apologize. My grandmother was a spider”), and he plays music with Bo Diddley shot of a group of friends.He said Knowledge Reference Lab Sheet (nostalgic) Via Hollis Frampton. “I’m interested in the romanticization of nostalgia, but it’s more of a function of nostalgia — it’s not an end, it’s a means to something deeper, something that might be more meaningful or useful.”

Cloudless blue exit in summer In “The Sun Comes Anytime”, Sky Hopinka – Les Forges, Parc des Ateliers, Luma, Arles, France. Photography: Adrian de Wilt

A large room is dedicated to a series of videos about the motherland and hallucinations swoon spell (2018), the artist imagines a myth surrounding the Xawiska or Indian pipe factory, used by the Ho-Chunk people to restore the unconscious. Handwritten text scrolls across the screen, accompanied by the mournful sound of wind instruments. Images of the landscape turned sideways, saturated in color, gave way to a lone figure walking among the ruins, lightning flashes behind an empty parking lot at night, and people on the beach were pulled up to blend with the sky.

It will take hours to visit both shows – which is only natural since they are full histories, narrated by another American voice. §

Knowledge In “The Sun Comes Anywhere”, Sky Hopinka – Les Forges, Parc des Ateliers, Luma, Arles, France. Photography: Adrian de Wilt

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