Hauntologies is artist and filmmaker John Akomfrah's compelling meditation on
disappearance, memory and death. In his first exhibition for Carroll / Fletcher, the
virtuosity and depth of his practice is revealed through three new video, sound
and installation commissions - never before presented in the UK - as well as
recent existing works.
The short film Peripeteia (2012), takes as its starting point two drawings by the
sixteenth century artist Albrecht Durer. The portraits - one of a bearded black
male, the other of a black woman wearing a close fitting bonnet - are believed to
be the earliest Western representations of black people, their existence now 'lost
to the winds of history'. These elusive characters evolve into the film's ghostly
protagonists, wandering in a contemporary moorland landscape, the past
insinuating itself into the present.
Akomfrah's long obsession with film archives and the search for traces attesting
to the evasive and yet inescapable presence of death unfolds in At the Graveside of Tarkovsky (2012). This new sound installation is created from the soundtracks
to Tarkovsky films, and made in collaboration with Trevor Mathison. In a new
video essay Psyche (2012), Akomfrah further explores the imagined biographies
of figures from the past through edited extracts from historical feature films such as Carl Theodor Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928), Jean-Marie Straub
and Daniele Huillet's The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach (1968) and Kevin
Brownlow's Winstanley (1975).
Since the 1970s Akomfrah has been committed to giving a voice and a presence
to the African diaspora in Europe that goes beyond the conventional rhetoric of
resentment. Through poetic and polyphonic works he has invented a filmic
language that investigates the trauma and sense of alienation of displaced
subjects, mostly recently in his widely acclaimed film, Nine Muses (2010).
Akomfrah was a founding member of the Black Audio Film Collective, the seminal British filmmaking group that was active between 1982 and 1998, and which first
came to prominence with the groundbreaking creative documentary Handsworth
Songs (1986). Akomfrah is represented by Carroll / Fletcher.
Peripeteia (2012) is co-produced by The European Cultural Foundation
(ECF) and Carroll / Fletcher.