Arthur Jafa: What We Don’t See

‘A Series of Utterly Improbable, Yet Extraordinary Renditions’

Serpentine Sackler Gallery, 8 June – 10 September 2017

Arthur Jafa, A Series of Utterly Improbable, Yet Extraordinary Renditions (installation view), 2017. Image courtesy the artist and Serpentine Galleries.

The most common form of colour blindness in the human eye is the inability to see red or green. In one corner of Arthur Jafa’s dense, swirling exhibition of photography, video and objects at the Serpentine Gallery is LeRage (2017), a large stand up cut-out of the comic book character the Hulk angrily pulverising the ground on which he stands. The normally radioactive-green figure is here rendered how a colour-blind person might see him: in a dark greyscale, in turn suggesting that Hulk, with all his explosive fury, is a black man. Save a few clips of grainy video, most of Jafa’s installation is similarly in stark black and white, with a sense of underlying rage that is anything but colour-blind. Surrounding us with countless images of bodies – from icons like Mickey Mouse, to self-portraits and historical photographs from Jim Crow-era America – Jafa insists we notice skin colour, and acknowledge the politics of its presence and presentations. Continue reading

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