April 05 – June 01, 2024

Full Press Release


52 Walker is pleased to announce its eleventh exhibition, BLACK POWER TOOL AND DIE TRYNIG, which features a large-scale installation and new and recent paintings, sculptures, and film by Los Angeles-based artist Arthur Jafa (b. 1960). Lauded for his achievements as a filmmaker and cinematographer as well as a visual artist, Jafa has developed an incisive, chameleonic practice, through which he seeks to unravel the cultural significance and strictures ascribed in tandem upon Black existence in the Western world. In BLACK POWER TOOL AND DIE TRYNIG, Jafa invokes the body’s personal, political, and industrial guises in one fell swoop, deftly interweaving images and objects to create a forceful and maximal space that beckons toward engulfment and revelation alike. 

Jafa’s exhibition at 52 Walker brings to the surface questions of form, force, and resistance— in addition to tensions that result from common slips and errors. The title of the show, BLACK POWER TOOL AND DIE TRYNIG, applies strategies of sequencing and juxtaposition, channeling various meanings in its wordplay—including political ideologies, industrial terminologies, and the specter of death—while also nodding to the complexities of the word “black” and its many inflections. Favoring intuitive arrangement over uniformity, the artist eschews traditionally monolithic modes of presentation and instead coheres multiple simultaneous events, applying a decidedly Black and non-Western viewpoint that confronts twentieth-century art historiography and museology’s indebtedness to African aesthetics. 

Arthur Jafa: BLACK POWER TOOL AND DIE TRYNIG is curated by Ebony L. Haynes and presented by 52 Walker. A solo exhibition featuring a new film by Jafa will run concurrently at Gladstone Gallery, New York. 

Arthur Jafa was born in 1960 in Tupelo, Mississippi. He studied both film and architecture at Howard University in Washington, DC. 

Jafa has been the subject of solo exhibitions in prominent institutions worldwide. In 2022, the LUMA Foundation in Arles, France presented Arthur Jafa: Live Evil, an expansive solo exhibition of the artist’s work comprising photography, sculpture, large-scale installations, and films that filled two buildings of the foundation’s twenty-seven-acre campus. The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, Denmark, presented Arthur Jafa: MAGNUMB in 2021, and Glenstone in Potomac, Maryland, held a solo exhibition of Jafa’s work that same year. In 2018 one of Jafa’s most celebrated films, Love Is the Message, The Message Is Death, was streamed continuously for forty-eight hours on the websites of thirteen institutions including the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington, DC; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and the Tate, United Kingdom. 

Video shot by Pushpin Films

In the Studio: Arthur Jafa. A visit to the artist’s Los Angeles studio, interview by Judnick Mayard.