FROM NEW YORK TO TEXAS, museums are presenting some of the most socially engaging and historically significant work of our time. Five must-see exhibitions feature critically acclaimed video installations by Arthur Jafa and Garrett Bradley; retrospectives exploring the photography of New York collective Kamoinge Workshop and Chicago-based Dawoud Bey; and works by artists incarcerated in U.S. prisons, the result of a groundbreaking, 10-year project of curator Nicole R. Fleetwood. Closing soon, the exhibitions include:


Still from Arthur Jafa’s “Love is the Message, The Message is Death” (2016). | © Arthur Jafa

Love is the Message, The Message is Death @ Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas | Aug. 30, 2020-March 7, 2021

Arthur Jafa’s highly regarded “Love is the Message, The Message is Death” (2016) is an ode to the Black experience in all its glory, joy, and sorrow. A rapid-pace montage of historic and contemporary footage, the video installation runs seven-plus minutes with Kanye West’s gospel-inspired “Ultralight Beam” serving as the video’s soundtrack. The Dallas Museum of Art was part of a consortium of museums and galleries that simultaneously streamed the video online for 48 hours last June.


DAWOUD BEY, “Girls, Ornaments, and Vacant Lot, Harlem, NY,” 2016 (inkjet print). | © Dawoud Bey, Courtesy High Museum

Dawoud Bey: An American Project @ High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Ga. | Nov. 7, 2020–March 14, 2021

Since the 1970s, Dawoud Bey has employed his camera “to create poignant meditations on visibility, race, place, and American history. From early street portraits made in Harlem to a recent series imagining an escape from slavery on the Underground Railroad, Bey explores photography’s potential to reveal communities and stories that have been underrepresented or even unseen.” A major retrospective of the Chicago-based photographer, “An American Project” presents about 80 works from eight major series over more than four decades. After originating at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and traveling to the High Museum, the exhibition will conclude at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, where it opens April 17.


Installation view of “Projects: Garrett Bradley,” The Museum of Modern Art, New York, N.Y. (Nov. 21, 2020-March 21, 2021). | Digital Image © 2020 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo by Robert Gerhardt

Projects: Garrett Bradley @ Museum of Modern Art, New York, N.Y. | Nov. 21, 2020-March 21, 2021

From artist and filmmaker Garrett Bradley, the director of “Time,” this multichannel video installation bridges the past and present. Bradley weaves a dozen short black-and-films with footage from “Lime Kiln Club Field Day” (1914), an unreleased project believed to be the oldest surviving feature-length film with an all-Black cast. The exhibition is co-curated by Thelma Golden, director and chief curator, with Legacy Russell, associate curator, both of the Studio Museum in Harlem.


ANTHONY BARBOZA (b. 1944), “Kamoinge Members,” 1973 (Gelatin silver print: sheet, 13 15/16 × 11 1/16 inches). | Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 2020.55. © Anthony Barboza

Working Together The Photographers of the Kamoinge Workshop @ Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, N.Y. | Nov. 21, 2020-March 28, 2021

Kamoinge Workshop, the New York collective of Black photographers, was founded in 1963. Chronicling the first two decades of the influential group, this exhibition features about 140 photographs by 14 early members with vastly different practices, including Anthony Barboza, Adger Cowans, Daniel Dawson, Louis Draper, Al Fennar, Ray Francis, Herman Howard, James M. Mannas Jr, Herb Randall, Herb Robinson, Beuford Smith, Ming Smith, Shawn Walker, and Calvin Wilson.


Installation view of “Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration,” MoMA PS1, Long Island City, Queen, N.Y. (Sept. 17, 2020-April 5, 2021). | Image courtesy MoMA PS1. Photo by Matthew Septimus

Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration @ MoMA PS1, Long Island City, Queens, N.Y. | Sept. 17, 2020-April 04, 2021

Guest-curated by Nicole R. Fleetwood, “Marking Time” explores the prominence of incarceration in contemporary art and culture and presents works by artists in U.S. prisons alongside contributions by non-incarcerated artists “concerned with state repression, erasure, and imprisonment.” Timely, moving, encouraging, and disheartening, the exhibition reflects 10 years of scholarly research, long-overdue insights about the effects of incarceration on countless individuals and communities, as well as the personal impact of incarceration on Fleetwood’s own family. CT


BEFORE YOU GO Check directly with each institution to confirm it is open and any special visitor protocols or requirements due to COVID-19


Fully illustrated, “Working Together: Louis Draper and the Kamoinge Workshop” documents the exhibition of the same name, an unprecedented consideration of the New York photography collective’s first two decades. Forthcoming later this month, “Arthur Jafa: MAGNUMB” offers an overview of the artist’s best known video works alongside previously unseen works and scholarly writings. Arthur Jafa contributed to the long-awaited volume, “Ming Smith: An Aperture Monograph.” He is in conversation with Greg Tate about the presence of music and sound in the work of Ming Smith, the first female member of Kamoinge Workshop. Nicole R. Fleetwood published “Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration” to accompany the MoMA PS1 exhibition she guest-curated. “Dawoud Bey: Two American Projects” was published on the occasion of the Chicago-based photographer’s major traveling exhibition. It follows “Dawoud Bey: Seeing Deeply,” a comprehensive consideration of the artist’s more than four-decade practice.


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