It's an attitude that runs through all the projects that have by coincidence--each has been about three years in the making --been exhibited in the last year: Purple (2017), a six-channel video work first shown at the Barbican last October; Precarity (2017), a three-channel video about the jazz musician Charles 'Buddy' Bolden that premiered at Prospect.4 in New Orleans last year, and 'Signs of Empire', a survey--the artist's first in the United States--at the New Museum in New York this summer, which also included films from Akomfrah's Black Audio Film Collective
He first came to public attention in the early 1980s as a founding member of the influential Black Audio Film Collective
, a group of black British multimedia artists and filmmakers.
One consistent aspect of Akomfrah's practice (and the practice of the Black Audio Film Collective
, of which he was a founding member) has been to take a public archive and alter it, unmoor it, interfere with it in some fundamental way.
Tomorrow: Isaac Julien/ Sankofa July 11: Amber Films (introduced by Ellin Hare); July 18: Black Audio Film Collective
(introduced by David Lawson); July 25: Supersonic Festival workshop (sold out); August 1: ICO Essentials: Protest.
EXHIBITION: Final days of The Ghosts of Songs, a retrospective of films by the Black Audio Film Collective
. Seminal documentaries, some rarely seen and showing all day.
Sixty years later John Akomfrah, a leading director in the now disbanded Black Audio Film Collective
(1982-1988) made the very same journey to make a movie about the experience of mixed race families, and to talk about how they were treated and perceived.
She championed collectives Sankofa Film and Video Workshop and the Black Audio Film Collective
against a climate hostile to multicultural initiatives, just as she defended the socially aware impulse behind mainstream crowd-pleasers like My Beautiful Laundrette, the latter lambasted by Norman Stone in the Sunday Times for their 'disgustingness'.
Black Audio's Reece Auguiste argues that it is necessary to "systematiz[e] the ways in which sound, image, colour, and movement signify." However, he continues, the intervention of which film is capable does not reside simply on the level of style: "Since its inception, Black Audio Film Collective
has endeavoured to build a critical language, a grammar of precision, of movement and fluidity.
In 1982, Ghana-born, London-based artist John Akomfrah cofounded the Black Audio Film Collective
with fellow students at Portsmouth Polytechnic, aiming to kick-start a specifically black culture of politically and theoretically attuned moving-image work in the UK.
EXHIBITION: The Ghosts of Songs is a retrospective of work by the Black Audio Film Collective
. From tomorrow, 11am-6pm, FACT, Wood Street.
As a founding member of the acclaimed Black Audio Film Collective
, Akomfrah contributed to the now-disbanded group's filmic studies of great twentieth-century intellectuals, activists, and cultural figures such as Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.; of social developments such as the Black Power movement championed by Michael X in 1960s Britain or the Handsworth uprisings and related racial conflicts of the mid-'80s; and of influential musicians including Sun Ra and George Clinton.
The seven-person Black Audio Film Collective
was one of the most important groups to emerge in the 1980s challenging notions of the moving image.