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Arthur Jafa’s Dreams Are Colder Than Death

Arthur Jafa’s Dreams Are Colder Than Death

Arthur Jafa’s Dreams Are Colder Than Death

Los Angeles Filmforum at MOCA

Arthur Jafa’s Dreams Are Colder Than Death

In Person: Arthur Jafa and Saidiya Hartman!

Thursday, May 11, 2017, 7:00 pm

The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, 152 North Central Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90012


Arthur Jafa’s Dreams are Colder than Death (2014) is an experimental video essay that explores some of the most fundamental questions facing American society. As a voiceover at the beginning of the film asks: “What is the concept of blackness? Where did it come from? What does it mean for people of color living in America today?” A richly nuanced reflection on contemporary black experience emerges as interviews with some of the most significant and influential contemporary thinkers and artists in the black tradition play against a mosaic of disparate imagery ranging from portraits of traditionally black neighborhoods to re-appropriated photos of the cosmos. Participants include Wangechi Mutu, Kara Walker, Fred Moten, Hortense Spillers, and Saidiya Hartman, Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, who will be present to discuss the documentary with Jafa following the screening.

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TICKETS $15 general admission, $8 students with ID

FREE for MOCA & Los Angeles Filmforum members; must present current membership card to claim free tickets.

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Arthur Jafa is a celebrated filmmaker and artist based in New York. Since his groundbreaking work as the acclaimed cinematographer of Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust (1991), a film where he experimented with the possibility of instituting a specifically black aesthetic inspired by the cadence and form of free jazz and black vocal intonation—what Jafa refers to as “black visual intonation”—he has worked on Spike Lee’s Crooklyn  (1994), John Akomfrah’s Seven Songs for Malcolm X (1995), Ava DuVernay’s Selma (2014), and In the Morning, directed by Nefertite Nguvu (2014), among many others. Concurrent with his filmmaking practice, Jafa has worked as a visual artist. Turning more intensely towards installation practice, Jafa has been relentlessly researching the possibility of creating an authentically black visual aesthetics, which he models after the centrality of black music in American culture and life. —adapted from Liquid Blackness

Saidiya Hartman is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. She is the author of Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2007) and Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-Making in Nineteenth Century America (Oxford, 1997). She is completing a new book, Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments (Norton, 2017) which examines the sexual upheaval and radical transformation of everyday life that took place in the slums in the early decades of the 20th century. The remaking of the slum as the black ghetto consolidated the racial order and extended the reach of the plantation to the city.


Education Programs at MOCA, including Contemporary Art Start and Sunday Studio, and the MOCA Teen Program, are generously supported by The Hearst Foundations, Banc of California, MOCA Projects Council, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, The Capital Group Companies Charitable Foundation, Edison International, Joseph Drown Foundation, The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation, Satterberg Foundation, Dwight Stuart Youth Fund, Michael Asher Foundation, The Kenneth T. and Eileen L. Norris Foundation, The Rhonda S. Zinner Foundation, The Winnick Family Foundation, and​ Pazia Bermudez-Silverman.

Los Angeles Filmforum is supported by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission. Additional support comes from the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and the Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles. We also depend on our members, ticket buyers, and individual donors.

Los Angeles Filmforum at MOCA furthers MOCA’s mission to question and adapt to the changing definitions of art and to care for the urgency of contemporary expression with bimonthly screenings of film and video organized and co-presented by Los Angeles Filmforum—the city’s longest-running organization dedicated to weekly screenings of experimental film, video, documentary, and animation.

Dreams Are Colder Than Death

By Arthur Jafa, 2014, Digital video, color and sound, 52 minutes