Published: Oct 4, 2011
John Akomfrah, "Mnemosyne," film still, 2010.
SAVANNAH, Georgia - SCAD's exhibitions department
is pleased to present the work of acclaimed British film director and screenwriter John Akomfrah at the Pei Ling Chan Gallery from Oct. 5-Nov. 18. The Savannah College of Art and Design is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution.
" is a recent work by Black Audio Film Collective member and seminal filmmaker John Akomfrah. Akomfrah's unique and genre-defying story about chance, fate and redemption, "Mnemosyne" is a modern recasting of Homer's epic "The Odyssey" as a "song cycle" on journeys, migration, memory and the power of elegy. The installation questions memory and suggests the possibility of endless re-interpretation of historical events by interweaving archival footage from BBC television, film and sound archives from 1960-81, with contemporary 'portraits' and extracts of new work filmed in a remote snowy landscape.
"Mnemosyne" takes the viewer on a fantastical journey merging mythology and history. For this project Akomfrah drew inspiration from the writings of Dante Alighieri, Samuel Beckett, Emily Dickinson, James Joyce, John Milton, Fredrich Nietzsche, William Shakespeare, Sophocles and Dylan Thomas. SCAD's presentation of this film was curated by Smoking Dogs Films in collaboration with SCAD executive director of exhibitions Laurie Ann Farrell and support provided by SCAD exhibitions coordinator Rana Edgar. Farrell states, "I knew when I saw this film at the British Film Institute in London that it would resonate profoundly at SCAD with our film and television program, among other majors. We've also purposefully timed the presentation of this film with the Savannah Film Festival to present a major filmmaker as a model to our students as Akomfrah is highly revered in both film and art circles."
The artist will hold a talk on Friday, Oct. 7, 3:30-4:30 p.m., with a reception to follow at 6 p.m. The exhibition, lecture and reception are free and open to the public.
Born in Accra (Ghana) in 1957, Akomfrah is one of the influential figures of the 80s black British cultural scene. As an artist, lecturer, writer, critic and film director, his twenty-year body of work is considered among the most distinctive and innovative to be produced in contemporary Britain.
In 1982, Akomfrah helped found the seminal, cine- cultural workshop Black Audio Film Collective, and directed a broad range of work within this critically acclaimed outfit. "The Ghosts of Songs," a retrospective of this work, recently premiered in England and is set to tour Europe this year.
His film essay, "Handsworth Songs," which explored the racial disturbances breaking out across cities in Britain in 1985, brought Akomfrah to the international circuit, winning seven international prizes, including the prestigious John Grierson Award for documentary.
Since 1987, Akomfrah's work has also been shown in a variety of galleries across the world, including shows at the Documenta (Germany); De Balie (Holland); Centre George Pompidou (France); the Serpentine and Whitechapel Galleries (United Kingdom); The Museum of Modern Art and The Walker Arts Centre (United States).
His début feature film "Testament" premiered at Cannes in 1989 and went on to win a number of international prizes. Akomfrah was awarded the prestigious Gold Digital Award at the Cheonju International Film Festival (South Korea) in 2000 and was awarded one of the highest accolades in the Queen's New Year Honour's List, an OBE, in 2008.
From 2001-07, John Akomfrah was a governor of the British Film Institute. He is currently a governor of film organization, Film London, and a visiting professor in film at the University Of Westminster.
Pei Ling Chan Gallery: Friday, Oct. 7, 3:30-4:30 p.m.
Artist reception at Pei Ling Chan Gallery
Held in conjunction with the gallery hop. Friday, Oct. 7, 6-7:30 p.m.
Pei Ling Chan Gallery
322 and 324 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Savannah, Georgia
Oct. 5-Nov. 18, 2011
Gallery hours: Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday closed
This exhibition is held in conjunction with the Savannah Film Festival