Exhibition worth seeing – John Akomfrah at Lisson Gallery in the 'blog Section'

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John Akomfrah’s new exhibition at Lisson Gallery is mesmeric, moving and completely inspiring. It has lit a torch – new ideas for new works. It was a privilege to attend the gallery’s event “John Akomfrah in conversation with Ekow Eshun.” Without doubt the best live interview I have ever heard.

The Exhibition is open until 12th March.

Lisson Gallery, 27 Bell Street, London, NW1 5BY


From Lisson Gallery’s website –  http://www.lissongallery.com 
For his debut at Lisson, Akomfrah is presenting three new film installations, alongside a series of large scale photographs related to the works. The first work, The Airport (2016), is a three screen film installation which recalls the work of two filmmaking greats: Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999) and Theo Angelopolous (1935-2012). The film’s narrative, complete with sweeping shots of the landscapes of Athens and Southern Greece, contemplates the significance of empire, and the ghosts which linger in our collective consciousness – both physically through architectural ruins and metaphorically through the traces and personal histories of previous generations. The film’s elastic sense of time, where characters from different eras and generations encounter one another references Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Angelopolous’s technique of employing constant movement between camera, characters and locations is also reflected to poetic affect.

The second work Auto Da Fé (2016), which translates as Acts Of Faith, is a diptych that looks at migration through the lens of religious persecution. Presented as a poetic period drama, the film presents a series of eight historical migrations over the last 400 years, starting with the little known 1654 fleeing of Sephardic Jews from Catholic Brazil to Barbados. As the film develops, we are presented with tale after tale of populations being displaced along religious lines, right up to the present day migrations from Hombori, Mali and Mosul, Iraq. Religion, persecution and migration are, it seems, old and continuing bedfellows. The work was filmed on location in Barbados, but the landscape is deliberately anonymous, reflecting the universal nature of these stories.

The third and final film Tropikos (2016), transforms the landscape of the Tamar Valley in the South West of England into a sixteenth-century port of exploration on the African continent in order to reveal the deep-rooted and darker history of the river and the UK’s role in the development and proliferation of the slave trade.

Tropikos is a 70th Anniversary Commission for the Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre London, with the River Tamar Project and Smoking Dogs Films.