The British Council announced that Sir John Akomfrah will represent the United Kingdom at the 2024 Venice Biennale. The Ghanaian-born artist immigrated to Britain at age four and has said in a past interview that he feels a “moral obligation” to create works that center around migration and resist the “rhetoric of contagion” that probe into refugees who come to Europe.
At age 65, Akomfrah was one of the founders of the Black Audio Film Collective (BAFC) in 1982, which explored themes pertaining racial injustice, climate change, diasporic identity and colonialist legacies — to which the artist was recently knighted as part of the King’s New Year UK Honours List for 2023.
“I see this invitation as recognition of and a platform for all those I have collaborated with over the decades, and who continue to make my work possible. I’m grateful to be given a moment to explore the complex history and significance of this institution and the nation it represents, as well as its architectural home in Venice – with all the stories it has told and will continue to,” said the artist in a statement.
John Akomfrah’s Four Nocturnes (2019). © Smoking Dogs Films; Courtesy Smoking Dogs Films and Lisson Gallery.
Amongst his award-winning installations, Akomfrah shed light on the hardships experienced by migrants in the UK in Mnemosyne (2010), as well as portraying humanity’s complex relationship with the natural world in Four Nocturnes (2019), which went on view at the 2019 Venice Biennale.
“The quality and contextual depth of his artistry never fails to inspire deep reflection and awe. For the British Council to have such a significant British-Ghanaian artist in Venice is an exhilarating moment,” said Skinder Hundal, global director of arts at the British Council.
The 60th Venice Biennale will run from April 20 to November 24, 2024. Please visit the organizer’s website for more information.
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