Arthur Jafa

APEX, 2013

Video/Film
single-channel video projection, color, sound
Basel 2017

Begun as a compendium of disparate images edited and sequenced by artist and filmmaker Arthur Jafa over the course of five years, APEX is conceived as a scenario of sorts for a feature film project. In Jafa’s words, ‘I’ve always understood [APEX] as akin to Tatlin’s Monument to the Third International [1919– 20], which of course was never built. I’ve come to understand it as a model for both a film – a $100 million sci-fi epic – and as a kind of preor anti-cinema’. Reaching for his oft-mentioned mantra, ‘a cinema capable of matching the power, beauty, and alienation of black music‘, APEX maps out an ontology inextricably bound up with what the artist calls ‘black potention’ as an emblem of the very absence of any condition of possibility. Jafa’s extensive research into black culture and his theories surrounding a ‘black aesthetic’ led him to produce APEX, an eight-minute video comprised of hundreds of images – objects, people, moments, and events – which race by against an apocalyptic soundscape. The densely sequenced concatenation, organized according to various ‘affective proximities’, produces ‘spooky entanglements’, abstract narrative surges and coded emotional resonances, all of which index Jafa’s ongoing interest in the ‘abject sublime’, doom sutras and the contingent nature of being black.

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