John Akomfrah talks to TateShots about his practice as a filmmaker. The artist discusses how he navigates between the gallery and cinema, what compelled him to make his 2015 work Vertigo Sea, and the influence of Andrei Tarkovsky.
After a tour of his work space at Smoking Dogs, he responds to subjects such as, ‘the border of cinema’, whether he prefers working in film, TV or the gallery, the philosophy of montage, why history matters, and archive and documentary…
…the thing I have spoken a lot about is the how much the archive is a sort of memory bank, which connects it with questions of mortality. Usually at archives you can’t watch stuff without realising that it is also watching people who have gone. That recognition is on it’s own is not very much unless it is married with a second recognition which is that the image is one of the ways in which immortality is enshrined in our pysche and in our lives, you know? And documentaries do that. You make a documentary to both capture something that’s going to die unless it’s captured, but you are also trying to capture something because you want it to live…
John Akomfrah’s essay on Marc Karlin, Illumination and the Tyranny of Memory, can be seen in Marc Karlin – Look Again, edited by Holly Aylett, published by Liverpool University Press. Available now at the BFI shop.
Sheffield Hallam University Thursday, 13 June 2013 from 10:30 to 18:00 (BST) Sheffield, United Kingdom
“We want to make films that unnerve, that shake assumptions, that threaten, that do not soft-sell” Robert Kramer, ‘Newsreel’ Film Quarterly, Vol. 22, No. 2 (Winter, 1968-69), p.46, University of California Press
The late ’60s and ’70s saw the development of documentary film collectives in the UK that addressed the burning political issues of their day. They developed radical forms of independent film production and distribution prior to digital or the web and produced a large body of work, from short agitational cinetracts to sophisticated essayistic features.
The symposium seeks to re-ignite the work of this radical wave, to ask how they engaged with politics and film and how this might inform politically engaged filmmaking today. It will feature films, and filmmakers, from the ’70s generation alongside radicals of today.
Keynote Speaker: Federico Rossin (Critic and Curator)
Panelists include: Holly Aylett (Vertigo and ‘In the Spirit of Marc Karlin’ project) · Luke Fowler (Artist, Turner Prize Nominee 2012) · Lina Gopaul and David Lawson (Black Audio Film Collective/Smoking Dog Films) · Ann Gueddes (Founder of Cinema Action) · Dan Kidner (Writer and Curator, recently published ‘Working Together: Notes on British Film Collectives in the 1970s’) · Christine Molloy (Artist, Desperate Optimists) · David Panos (Artist, Jarman Award Winner 2011) · Steve Sprung (Cinema Action/Poster Film Collective/Lusia Films)
RELATED TICKETED SHEFFIELD DOC/FEST SCREENINGS:
Wednesday 12 June · 18:45 · Showroom 2
‘The Poor Stockinger, the Luddite Cropper and the Deluded Followers of Joanna Southcott‘ (2012) by Luke Fowler
Thursday 13 June · 20:45 · Sheffield Library Theatre
‘The Stuart Hall Project‘ (2012) by John Akomfrah
The symposium is supported by: Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield Institute of Arts, Art and Design Research Centre, Sheffield Doc/Fest
Producers: Virginia Heath, Esther Johnson, Steve Sprung
Enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org · +44 (0)114 225 6918