Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 
Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable

Critic's Notebook: What Filmmaker John Akomfrah's Work Tells Us About the Present By Way of the Past

By Celluloid Liberation Front | Indiewire October 5, 2012 at 11:02AM

True to his post-colonial interests, Akomfrah's work blurs and re-imagines the distinction between video art and cinema. While his conceptual rigor and semantic preoccupations suit the immersive spaces of video art/installation, his lyricism calls for the scope of the big screen.
0

His new exhibition -- composed by different sets -- works as a sort of spectral compendium to the inner mechanics of his practice, an illuminated passageway through the directors that influenced his work and the audio-visual artifacts that marked his consciousness. In "Psyche" -- a looping three-channel video installation -- assorted costume-dramas ("Wistanley," "Borderline," "Que Viva Mexico!" and others) are assembled and fragmented, thus altering the perception of time and montage.

Akomfrah continues to explore the liminal zone between historical delineation and fictional intervention on reality.

By splicing the same sequence across three screens but timing each one of them differently, Akomfrah gives the impression that the same scene is being filmed from three different angles. By displaying his cinematic influences (the films will also be screened in their entirety in a separate series), the artist makes sure to expose the multiplicity of perspectives and interpretations each viewing can provide. "Peripeteia" is Akomfrah's singular take on a costume drama that draws inspiration from two drawings by the sixteenth century painter Albrecht Durer, allegedly found in Yorkshire (where the film is shot), and considered to be among the earliest representation of black people in western art.

The film gives life -- by means of fictional re-enactment -– to these two story-less characters lost in the winds of history, caught up in the cold mist of an immemorial countryside, their feelings frozen in time by a merciless gale. The absence of memories and the impossibility of recovering these stories is rendered with a sense of loss and estrangement that's predominantly sensorial. Forgotten from the annals of western civilization, their silence is broken only by archival images of tribes, possible ancestors of an undocumented era.

Taking a more personal approach, "The Call of Mist – Redux" is an updated version a work Akomfrah did for the BBC in 1998 to commemorate his late mother. Once again loss and disappearance come to the creative fore of his reflections. And in another piece related to death, the artist pays homage to the soundscapes of Andrei Tarkovsky's cinema in "At the Graveside of Tarkovsky," a collection of soundtracks from the Russian filmmaker's films that the artist complements with suggestive landscapes he personally shot.

With "Hauntologies," Akomfrah continues to explore the liminal zone between historical delineation and fictional intervention on reality. Chasing the ghosts of history through our collective subconscious, his work keeps opening portals into historical knowledge while resisting univocal representations of race and conflicts. He speaks for everyone.

This article is related to: Critic's Notebook, Reviews, John Akomfrah, Hauntologies






Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome

Most Read



Awards Season Spotlight

Contender Conversations

Indiewire celebrates the best and brightest from Independent film, Hollywood, and foreign cinema.

More