"The White Album is a bit difficult to put into words. The first version of it was assembled pretty intuitively. Only in sitting with it for a while did I come to a notion of what it is trying to do. For me, it is about the tension (or gap) between, on one hand, what Cornel West has termed, ‘what one cannot not know as a black person in America’ (which basically could be named ‘whiteness’) and on the other hand, my deep affection, adoration, and love for people in my life who would be termed ‘white’. How can you reconcile these two facts?”

Boisterous and fast moving, this video work is a powerful companion to the dramatic scenes in paintings that also occupy the Schaeffer Gallery; from famine to bold beauty, racialisation and complex social structures – the sharp edges of life and death. The political, intimate and pop-cultural film footage in Arthur Jafa’s The White Album constructs a portrait of the United States of America and a racialised view of the complexities of ‘whiteness’ through personal opinion and confronting news events that continue to affect many people today.


  • Title: The White Album
  • Creator: Arthur Jafa
  • Date Created: 2018/2019
  • Location Created: Art Gallery of New South Wales
  • Physical Dimensions: duration; 29:55 mins
  • Provenance: Originally commissioned by the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA). Presented at the 22nd Biennale of Sydney with assistance from the United States Government. Courtesy the artist and Gavin Brown's enterprise, New York / Rome.
  • Type: video
  • Rights: Biennale of Sydney
  • Medium: single-channel digital video, colour, sound
  • Edition: 22nd Biennale of Sydney (2020): NIRIN

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