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Akomfrah John
Plasticien/ne | Réalisateur/trice | Scénariste
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Black Audio Film Collective (BAFC) : Fondatrice/teur | Réalisateur/trice



Cinéaste et plasticien ghanéen-brittanique

Né en 1957 à Accra, Ghana, John Akomfrah est un cinéaste ghanéen-brittanique installé à Londres depuis l'âge de 4 ans. Il a réalisé de très nombreux documentaires télévisés pour Channel Four TV et BBC TV, dont le moyen métrage The Last Angel of History qui a été présenté aux festivals de Mannheim, New York et au Fespaco (où il a obtenu le Prix Paul Robeson en 1996) et les longs métrages Handsworth Songs (récompensé à Los Angeles, Londres et au Fespaco 1987) ; Martin Luther King - Days of Hope (vainqueur de la South African Broadcasting Corporation Gold Medal 2001), Seven Songs for Malcolm X (récompensé à Chicago et au festival Images d'Ailleurs à Paris en 1994) et The Wonderful World of Louis Armstrong (qui a remporté le Grand prix digital au festival coréen de Cheonju).
Parmi ses films de fiction, on retiendra notamment son court métrage Digitopia (2001), inclus dans un long métrage avec les courts métrages du Taïwanais Tsai Ming-liang et du Chinois Jia Zhang-ke. Ce film a été sélectionné dans de très nombreux festivals internationaux (Toronto, Venise, Cinéma du Réel, Chicago, Gand?). John Akomfrah a également réalisé trois longs métrages, parmi lesquels Testament (1988) a été présenté au Festival de Cannes (Semaine de la Critique) et a obtenu divers prix et mentions (Rimini, San Francisco, Fespaco, Vues d'Afrique à Montréal).

John Akomfrah OBE (born 1957, in Accra, Ghana) is an Ghanian-English film director and screenwriter. He has directed 14 films since 1986. He was born in Accra and brought up in London, before studying Sociology at Portsmouth Polytechnic. He was a co-founder of the Black Audio Film Collective, active during the late 1980s.

John Akomfrah is a hugely respected artist and filmmaker, whose works are characterised by their investigations into memory, post-colonialism, temporality and aesthetics and often explores the experiences of migrant diasporas globally. Akomfrah was a founding member of the influential Black Audio Film Collective, which started in London in 1982 alongside the artists David Lawson and Lina Gopaul, who he still collaborates with today. Their first film, Handsworth Songs (1986) explored the events surrounding the 1985 riots in Birmingham and London through a charged combination of archive footage, still photos and newsreel. The film won several international prizes and established a multi-layered visual style that has become a recognisable motif of Akomfrah's practice. Other works include the three-screen installation The Unfinished Conversation (2012), a moving portrait of the cultural theorist Stuart Hall's life and work; Peripeteia (2012), an imagined drama visualising the lives of individuals included in two 16th century portraits by Albrecht Dürer and Mnemosyne (2010) which exposes the experience of migrants in the UK, questioning the notion of Britain as a promised land by revealing the realities of economic hardship and casual racism.

In 2015, Akomfrah premiered his three-screen film installation Vertigo Sea (2015), which explores what Ralph Waldo Emerson calls ‘the sublime seas'. Fusing archival material, readings from classical sources and newly shot footage, Akomfrah's piece focuses on the disorder and cruelty of the whaling industry and juxtaposes it with scenes of many generations of migrants making epic crossings of the ocean for a better life. In 2017, Akomfrah presented his largest film installation to date, Purple (2017), at the Barbican in London, co-commissioned by Bildmuseet Umeå, Sweden, TBA21-Academy, The Institute of Contemporary Art/ Boston, Museu Coleção Berardo, Lisbon and Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow. The six-channel video installation addresses climate change, human communities and the wilderness. More recently, Akomfrah debuted Precarity (2017) at Prospect 4 New Orleans, following the life of forgotten New Orleans jazz singer Charles'Buddy' Bolden. This year, on the occasion of his participation at the first Ghana Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale, John Akomfrah is presenting Four Nocturnes (2019), a new three-channel piece that reflects on the complex intertwined relationship between humanity's destruction of the natural world and our destruction of ourselves.

Akomfrah (born 1957, in Accra, Ghana) lives and works in London. He has had numerous solo exhibitions including BALTIC, Gateshead, UK (2019); ICA Boston, MA, USA (2019); Museu Coleção Berardo, Lisbon, Portugal (2018); Imperial War Museum, London, UK (2018); New Museum, New York, NY, USA (2018); Bildmuseet, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden (2015, 2018); Nasher Museum at Duke University, Durham, DC, USA (2018); SFMOMA, San Francisco, CA, USA (2018); Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Spain (2018); Barbican, London, UK (2017); Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, UK (2017); Turner Contemporary, Margate, UK (2016); Nikolaj Kunsthal, Copenhagen, Denmark (2016); STUK Kunstcentrum, Leuven, Belgium (2016); Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, Michigan, USA (2014); Tate Britain, London, UK (2013-14) and a week long series of screenings at MoMA, New York, USA (2011). His participation in international group shows includes: Ghana Pavilion, 58th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy (2019);'Strange Days: Memories of the Future', New Museum x The Store, London, UK (2018); Prospect 4, New Orleans, LA, USA (2017);'Restless Earth', La Triennale di Milano, Milan, Italy (2017);'Unfinished Conversations', Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NY, USA (2017);'British Art Show 8' (2015-17); ‘All the World's Futures', 56th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy (2015); ‘History is Now: 7 Artists Take On Britain', Hayward Gallery, London, UK (2015); ‘Africa Now: Politcal Patterns', SeMA, Seoul, South Korea (2014); Sharjah Biennial 11, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (2013); Liverpool Biennial, UK (2012) and Taipei Biennial, Taiwan (2012). He has also been featured in many international film festivals, including Sundance Film Festival, Utah, USA (2013 and 2011) and Toronto International Film Festival, Canada (2012). He was awarded the Artes Mundi Prize in 2017.

ARTWORKS (selection)

The Wonderful World of Louis Armstrong, biography

Expeditions 1 - Signs of Empire, 1983
Single channel 35mm colour Ektachrome transferred to video, sound Installation view of'John Akomfrah: Signs of Empire', New Museum, New York, USA, 2018 © Black Audio Film Collective (BAFC) © Smoking Dogs Films, New Museum

Expeditions 2 - Images of Nationality, 1984 © Black Audio Film Collective (BAFC)
Single channel 35mm colour Ektachrome transferred to video, sound

Handsworth Songs, 1986
Single channel 16mm colour film transferred to video, sound 58 minutes 33 seconds © Black Audio Film Collective (BAFC)
Grierson Award for Best Documentary Film, in 1987 (British Film Institute)

Twilight City (1987) © Black Audio Film Collective (BAFC)

Testament (1988), feature film © Black Audio Film Collective (BAFC)

The Mysteries of July (1991) © Black Audio Film Collective (BAFC)

Who needs a Heart (1991) © Black Audio Film Collective (BAFC)

Seven Songs for Malcolm X (1993) © Black Audio Film Collective (BAFC)

The Last Angel of History, 1995
Single channel colour video, sound 45 minutes 7 seconds

Memory Room 451, 1997
Single channel colour video, sound 22 minutes 13 seconds

Speak like a Child, 1998

Mnemosyne, 2010,
Single channel HD colour video, 5.1 sound (installation view) 45 minutes 6 seconds © Smoking Dogs Films

Psyche, 2012
Three channel HD colour video installation, monitors, sound (installation view) 8 minutes 58 seconds © Smoking Dogs Films

The Call of Mist (Redux), 2012
Single channel HD colour video, sound 13 minutes 16 seconds © Smoking Dogs Films

John Akomfrah's first solo show

Peripeteia, 2012
Single channel HD colour video, 5.1 sound 17 minutes 28 seconds © Smoking Dogs Films

The Unfinished Conversation, 2012
Three channel HD colour video installation, 7.1 sound (installation view) 45 minutes 48 seconds © Smoking Dogs Films

Martin Luther King: Days of Hope, 2013
60 minutes, Documentary
Narrator: Denzel Washington

Transfigured Night, 2013
Two channel HD colour video installation, 5.1 sound (installation view) 26 minutes 31 seconds © Smoking Dogs Films

The Silence, 2014
Single channel HD colour video, 5.1 sound 16 minutes 4 seconds © Smoking Dogs Films

All That is Solid, 2015
John Akomfrah and Trevor Mathison Single channel HD colour video, 5.1 sound 29 minutes 52 seconds © Smoking Dogs Films

Vertigo Sea, 2015
Three channel HD colour video installation, 7.1 sound 48 minutes 30 seconds © Smoking Dogs Films

Untitled, 2016
C-type print mounted on Dibond Framed: 101.6 x 152.4 cm / 40 x 60 in. © Smoking Dogs Films

Tropikos, 2016,
Single channel HD colour video, 5.1 sound (installation view) 36 minutes 41 seconds © Smoking Dogs Films

Auto Da Fé, 2016
Two channel HD colour video installation, 5.1 sound 40 minutes 30 seconds © Smoking Dogs Films

The Airport, 2016
Three channel HD colour video installation, 7.1 sound (installation view) 53 minutes © Smoking Dogs Films

Precarity, 2017,
Three channel HD colour video installation, 7.1 sound © Smoking Dogs Films

Preliminal Rites 2, 2017,
C-type print, mounted 114 x 152 cm / 44 7/8 x 59 3/4 in(each)

Preliminal Rites 7, 2017,
C-type print, mounted Triptych: 152.4 x 203.2 cm / 60 x 80 in (each panel)

Preliminal Rites 8, 2017,
C-type print, mounted Triptych: 152.4 x 203.2 cm / 60 x 80 in (each panel)

Purple, 2017,
6 channel HD colour video installation with 15.1 surround sound © Smoking Dogs Films

Mimesis : African Soldier, 2018,
Three channel HD colour video installation, 7.1 sound © Smoking Dogs Films

Four Nocturnes, 2019,
Three channel HD colour video, 7.1 sound Installation view,'Ghana Freedom', Ghana Pavilion, 58th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy, 2019 © Smoking Dogs Films


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Seven Songs For Malcolm X [Sept chansons pour Malcolm X] 1993

Riot 1999

Last Angel of History (The) 1996

This is My Africa 2008

Testament 1988

African Footsteps 1995

Handsworth Songs 1986

Twilight City 1989
Auteur du Commentaire

Touch of the Tar Brush (A) 1991

Martin Luther King : "J'ai fait un rêve" 1997

Vertigo Sea 2015

Mnemosyne 2010

Nine Muses (The) 2010

Peripeteia 2012

Imaginaires en exil. Cinq cinéastes d'Afrique se racontent‏ 2013

Longue marche de Martin Luther King (La) 2013

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tous les textes à propos de Akomfrah John


Amaa 2017 Jury Statement
With our list of Winners
Berni Goldblat
publié le 24/07/2017 05:07:22


Jihan El Tahri, Judy Kibinge, Jean-Marie Teno, John Akomfrah, Idrissa Ouédraogo, Mohammed Lakhdar-Hamina, à l'Académie des Oscars
Ils sont parmi les 774 nouveaux membres invités. Ils rejoignent Nadia Ben Rachid.
Thierno Ibrahima Dia
publié le 29/06/2017 18:06:10


Amaa 2016: Jury Statment & Awards
presented By Shaibu Husseini, President Of The Jury 2016: Saturday June 11, 2016. Obi Wali International Conference Centre, Port Harcourt, Rivers State
John Akomfrah
Steve Ayorinde
Ayuko Babu
Charles Burnett
June Givanni
Berni Goldblat
Shaibu Husseini
Filippe Savadogo
Keith Shiri
Dorothee Wenner
publié le 17/06/2016 01:06:46


Afriques en rhizome
Festival Filmer À Tout Prix 2015
Djia Mambu
publié le 08/12/2015 20:12:07


Festival International du Film de Toronto 2012
Une plateforme internationale rêvée pour les cinéastes africains
Djia Mambu
publié le 12/10/2012 01:10:12


Ouverture de la 67° Mostra
Venise, née des vagues, sortie de l'écume...
Azzedine Mabrouki
publié le 03/09/2010 16:09:55


texte(s) sur le site

Biennale de Dakar, lectures d'un art contemporain par l'Afrique
Yves Chatap
publié le 06/06/2014 07:06:46

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05/07/2009 > 20/07/2009
festival |Algérie |
Festival culturel panafricain d'Alger (PANAF) 2009
2e édition



21/04/2010 > 25/04/2010
festival |Belgique |
Afrique taille XL, Festival des cinémas africains de Bruxelles 2010
6è édition. Le Festival des Cinémas Africains de Bruxelles a lieu tous les ans au printemps. Il est consacré aux oeuvres de cinéastes africains et d'origine africaine et porte une attention toute particulière au documentaire.



01/09/2010 > 11/09/2010
festival |Italie |
Mostra de Venise 2010 (Venezia 67)
67ème édition



12/12/2010 > 19/12/2010
festival |Émirats arabes unis |
7th Dubai International Film Festival - DIFF 2010
7ème édition



01/09/2012 > 02/09/2012
cycle de cinéma |Royaume-Uni |
2012 Deloitte Ignite Africa on the Piazza film programme
at Royal Opera House Covent Garden (Central London). Programers: Yinka Shonibare and John Akomfrah. FREE FILM PROGRAMME



06/09/2012 > 16/09/2012
festival |Canada |
Festival International du Film de Toronto (TIFF 2012)
37ème édition



14/06/2013 > 27/07/2013
exposition |Côte d'Ivoire |
Une exposition de films et de vidéos proposée par Marie Muracciole



16/10/2013 > 20/10/2013
festival |France |
15ème Festival des Cinémas différents et expérimentaux de Paris
Compétition internationale + 8 focus consacrés au réemploi des images d'archive + Rencontres



soirée |Afrique du Sud |
African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA 2014) - Cérémonie de nomination
Soirée de nominations (pour la 10ème édition). à l'Emperors Palace, Johannesburg.



soirée |Nigeria |
African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA 2014)



16/09/2014 > 30/09/2014
festival |Trinité-et-Tobago |
Trinidad+tobago film festival (TTFF 2014)
9ème édition.



soirée |Nigeria |
African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA 2017)
13ème édition.



conférence-débat |France |
Conférence-débat autour de "Vertigo sea" de John Akomfrah
avec Thierno I. Dia, Mohamed Thara, Dragoss Ouedraogo, à la Base Sous-Marine, à 17h00. Journées Européennes du Patrimoine (JEP).


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