John Akomfrah is an artist and filmmaker, whose works investigate memory, post-colonialism, temporality and aesthetics; the experience of the African diaspora in Europe and the USA. He was a founding member of the Black Audio Film Collective, (London,1982) alongside David Lawson and Lina Gopaul, who remain collaborators. His iconic Handsworth Songs (1986) explores events surrounding the 1985 Birmingham riots employing archive footage, still photos and newsreel, a multi-layered visual style that has become identified with Akomfrah’s practice. Recent works include the installation, The Unfinished Conversation (2012), a moving portrait of the cultural theorist Stuart Hall’s life and work; Peripeteia (2012), an imagined drama visualising the lives of individuals included in two 16th century portraits by Albrecht Dürer and Mnemosyne (2010) exposing the experience of migrants in the UK, questioning the notion of Britain as a promised land by revealing the realities of economic hardship and casual racism. In 2015, Akomfrah premiered his three-screen film installation Vertigo Sea (2015). Fusing archival material, readings from classical sources and newly shot footage, Akomfrah’s piece focuses on the disorder and cruelty of the whaling industry juxtaposing it with scenes of many generations of migrants making epic crossings of the ocean. He lives and works in London.
Last Angel of History, 1996