Arthur Jafa’s “The White Album”
              Fanny Singer
              Arthur Jafa’s newest video The White Album (2018) is an open-ended work. At its premiere at the University of California’s Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive, where the work is being screened on a continuous loop, Jafa went so far as to imply that a newer cut might be ready later that evening. Rarely are moving images premiered in chrysalis states. But a work positioned in rebuke of a terminal condition is one that fundamentally resists stasis and, moreover, tidy conclusions. The method feels appropriate: despite the title, this video is less about whiteness than the porosity, corruptibility, and ultimate fragility of race. In The White Album, consecutive scenes wobble in and out of focus as Jafa moves between readymade internet footage and his own. Though the imperious watermark of Getty Images never flits into the frame, as it does repeatedly in Jafa’s earlier video, Love is the Message, the Message is Death­­ (2016), the blear of an image hovering at the edge of legibility remains the prevailing digital facture. His own footage—primarily portraits of staff at his gallery Gavin Brown’s enterprise, located in the historically black neighborhood of Harlem, including Brown himself—is filmed in high-definition. Whether these portraits of the people …

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