- MaterialVideo, color, sound; 105 Mins.
- Year of acquisition2019
- Inventory numberUAB /
- On viewBasement floor
More about the artwork
Of feature-film length, “akingdoncomethas” consists of a long sequence of recordings of preachers and gospel singers among their Black congregations. The material comes from different sources and decades. Arranged by Arthur Jafa into a large filmic collage, the recordings are a portrayal of a Black communality that is expressed in song and prayer. The film emphasizes their importance to African American culture, which has been formed by a long history of oppression and alienation. As Jafa describes it: “When you talk about Afro-American expressivity in the United States, typically you are talking about what I call immaterial expression. (…) music, dance, and oratorial practices. It is clearly overdetermined by the fact that most Afro-Americans are the sons and daughters of slaves. (…) You can sing, you can move, or do oratorical stuff on a chain gang, in a prison, on a plantation or a slave ship.”
Instead of rapid sequences of images, which characterize many of Jafa’s videos, “akingdoncomethas” is composed of long, uncut scenes of sermons and singing, evoking a panorama of feelings and emotions: from contemplative to ecstatic, from elegiac to euphoric; an emotional movement between atonement and the hope of salvation. The shots of Californian forest fires that are spliced between these scenes provide an ominous warning—they show a man-made hell on earth.