John Akomfrah

Artist and filmmaker charting the intersection of contemporary art, social history and identity politics

As a founder of Black Audio Film Collective, formed after the 1981 Brixton Riots, and a hugely influential filmmaker in his own right, Akomfrah has been charting the intersection of contemporary art, social history and identity politics for close to four decades. Given recent developments in all three fields, then, it’s no surprise that he’s in demand: in June, New York’s New Museum opened Akomfrah’s first US survey, while Purple, his 2017 Barbican commission, toured various European museums, and Vertigo Sea, the multiscreen work first shown at the 2015 Venice Biennale, continued its own apparently neverending global sojourn via SFMOMA, where it was exhibited alongside J.M.W. Turner’s The Deluge (1805). That Akomfrah is engaged in developing something like a twenty-first-century equivalent to history painting is supported by a multimedia installation at the Imperial War Museum, London. Opening in September, it tells the story of the millions of Africans who served in the First World War.