Text by CLOT Magazine
British-Ghanaian artist and filmmaker John Akomfrah presents his latest commissioned work, Purple, at The Curve in Barbican Centre. The piece follows on the heels of Akomfrah’s Vertigo Sea (2015), which showed at the 56th Venice Biennale as the second chapter of a planned quartet of films investigating ‘the aesthetics and politics of matter’.
Both works feature multi-channel video installations that use archival footage from his personal collection and collections at the British Film Institute and Natural History, scored with ambient sound and sound from the archival imagery.
In contrast with the singular emphasis of the ocean in Vertigo Sea, Purple takes an expansive look at the anthropomorphic effects on the planet. The six-movement installation documents and catalogues the effects of climate change on ‘human communities, biodiversity, and the wilderness.’ Akomfrah uses footage from locations as far-flung as Greenland in the Arctic and the Marquesas Islands in the South Pacific to form hidden relationships between climate change, plastification of the ocean, and ‘the memory of ice.’
John Akomfrah mentioned that The challenges ahead of us, of how we treat the planet and relate to matter and beings, are daunting and hyperreal. I hope these works contribute in a small way to some of the very necessary conversations we need to have about the uncertain roads ahead.
Born in 1957 in Accra, Ghana, Akomfrah lives and works in London. He as a founding member of the Black Audio Film Collective (1982–1998), and his work continues to be shown globally at exhibitions at Centre Pompidou, Paris; Tate Britain, London; Bildmuseet Umeå, Sweden; Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, Michigan; and The Museum of Modern Art, New York amongst others. Purple runs in The Curve from 6 October 2017 to 7 January 2018.