The Gallery at Tyneside Cinema presents the first exhibition in the North East by John Akomfrah OBE. Akomfrah’s influential works are characterised by their investigations into memory, post-colonialism, temporality and aesthetics and often explore the experience of the African diaspora in Europe and the USA. A founding member of the Black Audio Film Collective, he came to prominence with Handsworth Songs (1986), a film exploring the events surrounding the 1985 riots in Birmingham and London through a charged combination of archive footage, still photos and newsreel. Since then, Akomfrah has developed an outstanding body of work spanning installation, film, photography, Television work and documentary.
Peripeteia (2012), on show in The Gallery, takes as its starting point two drawings by the sixteenth century artist Albrecht Dürer. The portraits - one of a bearded black male, the other of a black woman wearing a close fitting bonnet - are among the earliest Western representations of black people, their existence now as described in the film "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.
The film is a compelling meditation on diaspora and disappearance drawing loosely on themes from Hieronymus Bosch’s triptych, The Garden Of Earthly Delights (c.1500-1505). Using a wide range of images from nineteenth century photography, Peripeteia is an exploration of histories untold. The work is the first part of a trilogy that creatively looks at the traces, appearances and disappearances of early African life in Europe.
John Akomfrah's exhibition at Tyneside Cinema will coincide with the showing of Vertigo Sea (2015) at Arnolfini Bristol, 16 January - 10 April 2016. The work, first displayed as part of Okwui Enwezor’s exhibition ‘All the World’s Futures’ at the 56th Venice Biennale, was financially supported by The Gallery at Tyneside Cinema. In January Akomfrah will also exhibit new work at Lisson Gallery, London, 22 January - 12 March 2016.
A film season of Akomfrah's titles will also take place at Tyneside Cinema, for details of dates and times please visit www.tynesidecinema.co.uk
Peripeteia is co-produced by The European Cultural Foundation (ECF) and Carroll/Fletcher.