John Akomfrah

1957 · Ghana

One of Britain’s most politically committed and aesthetically ambitious artists, John Akomfrah is a writer, film director, theorist and curator. He was one of founders of the cine-cultural group Black Audio Film Collective, in 1982. He made his début with Handsworth Songs, which examined the fallout from the 1985 Handsworth riots, and won the Grierson Award for Best Documentary. Since the early eighties his lens-based output has stretched across television, cinema and exhibition. Some of his more recent exhibition work has included Vertigo Sea, displayed at the 2015 Venice Biennale; Purple, a commission for London’s challenging Barbican Curve space; Precarity, an ode to Jazz and its little known founding figure, Charles “Buddy” Bolden, for Prospect 4; and Mimesis: African Soldier, a piece designed to commemorate the African and colonial participants who fought, served and perished during the First World War. His latest work, Four Nocturnes, will be shown at the Venice Biennale in 2019 as part of the inaugural Ghanaian Pavilion and it is the second part of a trilogy of triptych video works, which focuses on the natural world. In 2017 Akomfrah won the Artes Mundi prize, the UK’s leading prize for contemporary art.