Asking questions beyond The Black Atlantic, mostly around memory and migration, John Akomfrah has (deservedly) been a much revered artist/filmmaker since the early 1980s. As a director within the Black Audio Film Collective he has poetically portrayed subject matter on film including urban unrest (Handworth Songs, 1986) and Afrofuturist sonic continuums (The Last Angel of History, 1995).
Two new projects are currently happening, one in Liverpool, the other in London . As part of the Liverpool Biennial a film on Stuart Hall, The Unfinished Conversation, will be at the Bluecoat until November 25th. Until November 8th, Carroll/Fletcher gallery (London, W1) are presenting an exhibition entitled, Hauntologies.
Having not yet been able to attend The Unfinished Conversation, Mark Hudson’s glowing review can paint the picture.
Hauntologies, a Derridean term, presents four video works and one series of photographic prints. The videos are typically evocative, addressing displacement, how stories are shaped, how history is archived, and how these acts are subjective. With separate works dedicated to his mother and Andrei Tarkovsky they also show Akomfrah overtly recognising and thanking key figures in his life.
The gallery setting amplifies the importance of sound in Akomfrah’s work, whether with Trevor Mattison’s sound design or his own. Interviewed by curator Bárbara Rodríguez Muñoz for an accompanying publication, John explained, “I wanted to go back to sound, sounds as noise, as narrative, as a body. And I wanted it to talk to the images in a space of equality, not as subservient, not as a prisoner, or as the hidden cousin.”
In addition to John’s own moving audio-visuals, Carroll/Fletcher are also screening (for free!) films that have been a particular influence to him, so much so that he sampled them in his three-channel video installation, Psyche. This series began with Kenneth Macpherson’s remarkable silent film from 1930, Borderline. Produced by the group of intellectual mavericks, Pool, especially noteworthy elements of Borderline were its strobe-like editing and bold (for the time) depiction of interracial relationships; sexual and societal.
Part of The Unexpected Guest, The Unfinished Conversation is on until Nov 25th at the Bluecoat, Liverpool, L1 3BX.