ARTHUR JAFA PAGE
(c) above image: copyright 1994 Arthur Jafa
"The very proposition of an authentic black cinema, a cinema as
rich in its
power and alienation as black music, instills dread and anticipation in
hearts of those who want to consign black creativity to the realm of "freak
nigger shit," as if it were no more the result of profound intellectual
activity than the clotting of blood." -Arthur Jafa (Artforum January 1992)
Arthur Jafa is a cultural critic/worker, visual artist and
an African diasporic organic intellectual of the first order. His infrequently
published thinking around questions of Black cultural politics, Black cultural
nationalism, and film is visionary. Those who found such clarity of vision
in his contribution to Michele Wallace's Black
Popular Culture volume (edited by Gina Dent and assembled following
the conference of the same name at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 1992)
have been eager to hear his thoughts.
As a cinematographer, he has done work with Julie Dash on Daughters
of the Dust, as well as Spike Lee's Crooklyn , and Manthia
Diawara's "Rouch In Reverse"
One of Jafa's projects is the development of what he calls "black
visual intonation". His ideas concerning this project may be found
in his "69" essay in Black Popular Culture. Jafa is interested
in the ways in which a Black film culture can be developed that responds
and reflects black ways of life in the diaspora and investigating what he
calls "Black artifical intelligence".
In 1994, Jafa and Greg Tate gave the keynote address at the "From
Dogon to Digital", a conference of the Organization of Black Designers.
A copy of his talk is available by contacting O.B.D.
directly. bell hooks' recently interviewed Jafa,
and the essay appears in her new book, Reel
To Real: Race, Sex, and Class at the Movies . An interview with
Jafa will appear here in the near future.