John Akomfrah

6 July – 13 October 2019

Since the early 1980s, Akomfrah’s moving image works have offered some of the most rigorous and expansive reflections on the culture of the black diaspora, both in the UK and around the world.

Akomfrah’s work initially came to prominence in the early 1980s as part of Black Audio Film Collective, a group of seven artists founded in 1982 in response to the 1981 Brixton riots. The Collective produced a number of films notable for their mix of archival and found footage, interviews and realist depictions of contemporary England, and layered sound collages.

In works like Handsworth Songs 1986, Akomfrah and Black Audio Film Collective outlined the political and economic forces leading to social unrest throughout England. Akomfrah and the Collective were remarkable for their trenchant political inquiries and consistently experimental approach. They were also pioneering in their injection of narratives of black British history and culture into popular media through feature length films shown at film festivals and international documentaries made for British television.

Throughout the 1990s, Akomfrah’s subject matter expanded beyond the social fractures of contemporary British society to focus on a wider historical context, from the persistent legacy of colonialism to the roots of the contemporary in classical literature. Moving into the early 2000s, Akomfrah also produced a series of atmospheric works addressing personal and historical memory. In the past several years, his multichannel video works have evolved into ambitious, large-scale installations shown in museums around the world. At BALTIC , Akomfrah will present three film works including the UK premiere of Precarity 2017 alongside The Unfinished Conversation 2012 and Peripeteia 2012.