Glenstone Museum Presents Arthur Jafa

By Editorial Team on September 13, 2021
Arthur Jafa, akingdoncomethas, 2018, Video (color, sound) © Arthur Jafa. Courtesy the Artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels.
Opens Thursday, September 16

On September 16, Glenstone Museum will open an installation by Arthur Jafa consisting of recent video, sculpture, and photography. The multidisciplinary ensemble, selected by the artist and presented in Room 6 of the Pavilions, is the first solo museum exhibition of Jafa’s work in the Washington, DC area. 

Arthur Jafa (b. 1960, Tupelo, MS) is an artist and filmmaker who collects and collages a range of content and textures—including video clips from YouTube, sci-fi movies, archival still images, digital animations, snippets of sporting events, and police dashcam footage, among others—to create a cinema that, in his own words, “replicates the power, beauty, and alienation of Black music.” Jafa is creating a new installation of his work at Glenstone, drawn primarily from the museum’s collection and shown together for the first time.

“In 2020, we joined nearly a dozen other museums in a landmark coordinated streaming of Love is the Message, The Message is Death,” said Emily Wei Rales, director and co-founder of Glenstone. “We are honored to be collaborating again with Arthur Jafa to present a range of his two-dimensional and sculptural work alongside his film. The result is a multisensorial experience that continues his examination of the many dimensions of the Black experience.”

The centerpiece of the Glenstone installation is akingdoncomethas, 2018, which culls nearly two hours of footage of Black fellowship intercut with images of wildfires, celebrating the restorative power of faith in times of crisis. The length of the video roughly corresponds to the duration of a church service while highlighting the emotion and creativity of preaching and gospel music. Presented for the first time on a monumental scale, the work will be projected onto a dedicated wall within the 4,500-square-foot space.

“At Glenstone, we embrace artists who challenge us to think anew about how architecture enables aspects of their work to be reconsidered,” continued Rales. “Arthur Jafa is rethinking akingdoncomethas in terms of its spatial presence, sonic power, and visual impact. He is using the entirety of the exhibition space as a vehicle to meld several discrete artworks into one.”

Included in the exhibition is Big Wheel VI, 2018, a sculpture of a seven-foot-tall wheel enmeshed in chains. Inspired by the monster truck culture in the South, the work hints at both the restraints used on human beings and the decline of the U.S. automobile industry that disproportionately impacted Black communities.

Nearby will hang the wall relief, Ex-Slave Gordon, 2017, based on an 1863 photograph of the severely scarred back of a man who escaped slavery and later fought in the Union Army that helped to inflame the Abolitionist movement. Jafa renders the image in three dimensions, bringing the picture into the present-day viewer’s space by casting the form in plastic.

Additional works in the exhibition will be confirmed closer to the opening date.

Jafa’s work has been exhibited widely. Recent solo exhibitions include the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark (2020); Fundação de Serralves, Portugal (2020); Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2019); and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2017), among many others. His video artwork The White Album, 2018, was included in the 58th Venice Biennale where Jafa received the Golden Lion Award, the top prize for best work on view.

About Glenstone

Glenstone, a museum of modern and contemporary art, is integrated into nearly 300 acres of gently rolling pasture and unspoiled woodland in Montgomery County, Maryland, less than 15 miles from the heart of Washington, DC. Established by the not-for-profit Glenstone Foundation, the museum opened in 2006 and provides a contemplative, intimate setting for experiencing iconic works of art and architecture within a natural environment. The museum includes its original building, the Gallery, as well as additional structures opened in its 2018 expansion: the Arrival Hall (LEED platinum), the Pavilions, and the Café (both LEED gold).

Glenstone is open Thursdays through Sundays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Through September 5, Glenstone will offer extended summer hours from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Students 12 and older, active-duty military members, and museum professionals enjoy guaranteed entry for themselves plus one guest upon presenting a valid identification card at the Arrival Hall. Advanced registration is not required for visitors in these categories. Passengers who arrive at Glenstone on the Ride On bus (route 301) also will be offered guaranteed entry. 

Visitors are also invited to explore the grounds or participate in self-guided sculpture tours. Admission to Glenstone is free and visits can be scheduled online at: www.glenstone.org. Same-day visits can be scheduled online. 

At Glenstone, masks are currently required except when visitors and associates are outdoors and more than six feet apart from other households. For a list of current visitor guidelines, please review the Plan Your Visit page on www.glenstone.org.