At what scale should we consider the lives of Black Americans? For more than thirty years—starting while he worked as a cinematographer—Jafa has sought to answer that question, compiling notebooks with clippings from magazines, newspapers, and advertisements. Images of Mickey Mouse and Sojourner Truth intermingle with pictures of insects and astronomical phenomena; Black athletes, musicians, and artists; skulls and mutilated bodies. While each image stands alone, together they convey the shared vocabularies and collaborative practices the artist considers central to Black cultural production. Jafa’s notebooks, copies of which are presented here, testify to the complexity and beauty of Black life in the United States.
Gallery label from 2022