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Ghana-born filmmaker to represent UK in 60th international art exhibition

Updated: Feb 18

A Ghana-born artist and filmmaker, whose work explores issues including diasporic identities, migration and climate change, will showcase his latest installation at one of the most prestigious and oldest-running international art expositions.

Portrait of John Akomfrah. Photographer: Christian Cassiel © John Akomfrah; Courtesy Lisson Gallery
Portrait of John Akomfrah. Photographer: Christian Cassiel © John Akomfrah; Courtesy Lisson Gallery

John’s installation entitled ‘Listening All Night To The Rain’, will feature in the British Pavilion of the International Art Exhibition between 20 April and 24 November 2024.


John’s installation aims to interrogate themes of memory, migration, racial injustice, and climate change.


It also aims to explore the idea of listening as a form of activism.


The exhibition aims to encourage visitors to experience the British Pavilion’s 19th century neoclassical building in a way that interrogate relics and monuments of colonial histories.


And positions various progressive theories of acoustemology.


Acoustemology is the study of how human engages with sound and how new ways of becoming are rooted in different forms of listening.


“Listening All Night To The Rain alludes to the performative power that the sonic will hold in the Pavilion,” John said.

John Akomfrah, 2023 © British Council
John Akomfrah, 2023 © British Council

“The final ensemble of installations – iterations of acoustemology – detours back to questions of memory and of memorial but from a different vantage point, questioning the architectonics of the present and the spectres of the past, with the idea of listening as activism in mind.


“I sense that one can know the world – that you can find a name, an identity and a sense of belonging – via the sonic.”


About John Akomfrah

 John is a London-based artist who initially came to prominence in the early 1980s as part of the Black Audio Film Collective (BAFC), a collective founded in 1982. An early film by BAFC, titled Handsworth Songs (1986), explored the events around the 1985 riots in Birmingham and London.

John Akomfrah at his London studio, 2016 © © Smoking Dogs Films; Courtesy Smoking Dogs Films and Lisson Gallery.
John Akomfrah at his London studio, 2016 © © Smoking Dogs Films; Courtesy Smoking Dogs Films and Lisson Gallery.

In recent years, John’s work has evolved into ambitious, multi-channel installations presented in galleries and museums worldwide.


In 2017, he won the Artes Mundi prize, the UK’s biggest award for international art.

John Akomfrah; Four Nocturnes; 2019; Three channel HD colour video installation; 7.1 sound; 50 minutes AKOM190001. © Smoking Dogs Films; Courtesy Smoking Dogs Films and Lisson Gallery.
John Akomfrah; Four Nocturnes; 2019; Three channel HD colour video installation; 7.1 sound; 50 minutes AKOM190001. © Smoking Dogs Films; Courtesy Smoking Dogs Films and Lisson Gallery.

He has previously participated in the 58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia with Four Nocturnes, commissioned for the inaugural Ghana Pavilion in 2019, and Vertigo Sea (2015) as part of the 56th International Art Exhibition, curated by Okwui Enwezor (‘All the World’s Futures’).



The 60th International Art Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia runs from 20 April to 24 November 2024. The exhibition previews between 17 and 19 April, 10am-6pm.


Artists commissioned to represent Britain have included: Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Ben Nicholson, Anthony Caro, Bridget Riley, Richard Long, Frank Auerbach, Barry Flanagan, Howard Hodgkin, Tony Cragg, Anish Kapoor, Richard Hamilton, Leon Kossoff, Rachel Whiteread, Gary Hume, Mark Wallinger, Chris Ofili, Gilbert & George, Tracey Emin, Steve McQueen, Mike Nelson, Jeremy Deller, Sarah Lucas, Phyllida Barlow, Cathy Wilkes and Sonia Boyce (2022).


The best of the UK

The British Council has been responsible for the British Pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia since 1937, showcasing the best of the UK’s artists, architects, designers and curators.


For the first time, the British Council will work with partners on an expanded public programme of events and artistic responses to bring the themes of the British Pavilion to global audiences.


The sponsors for ‘Listening All Night To The Rain’ include returning headline partner Burberry, Richard Mille, Frieze and returning sponsor Christie’s.


The Art Fund is supporting the commission, along with a tour to bring 'Listening All Night To The Rain' to venues and audiences across the UK.


Support for the exhibition also comes from LG OLED, Kavadrat, UniFor, and the Lisson Gallery.


Bloomberg are digital partners for the British Pavilion in 2024.



This article is an original piece based on a press release and rewritten by AKADi Magazine. The contents of this page cannot be reproduced without permission.

 

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