John Akomfrah

The work of John Akomfrah that I am including in the imaginary exhibition is Auto Da Fé (2016).


Born in Ghana in 1957 to parents involved in Anti-Colonial Activism, Akomfrah, influenced by Stuart Hall has lived in Britain since the age of four and is one of the UK’s most prominent film makers, dealing with issues surrounding race, diaspora and migration, combining original footage with archival material, his films are poetic and wide reaching in an attempt to provide a voice to the African Diaspora.

Auto Da Fé (2016) is the second film installation by John Akomfrah, a poetic, enigmatic diptych that reflects upon six displaced populations that have migrated as a consequence of religious persecution during the last 400 years and right up to the present day.

Akomfrah was inspired to make this film after seeing a cemetery containing 17th Century graves of Sephardic Jewish refugees who had fled Brazil while teaching in Barbados which raised the question “How did they get here?”.

These specific migratory stories are set amidst chaos and uncertainty and reflect the precarious situations that these migrants found themselves in. Using an deliberate anonymous landscape, this film relates universally to stories of migration and religious persecution throughout the ages. Although each of these stories are from a different part of the world and a different time, there is a common theme or thread that binds these stories together. The issues that affect diasporic communities in the modern age are also issues that have affected these communities historically too.

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