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Akomfrah described the appointment as 'without a doubt one of the most exciting opportunities that an artist can be presented with.'

John Akomfrah to Represent Great Britain at Venice Biennale 2024

John Akomfrah. Courtesy British Council.

The British Council has revealed that Ghana-born artist John Akomfrah will represent Great Britain at the 60th Venice Biennale in 2024.

'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,' Akomfrah said in a statement.

'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,' he said.

Akomfrah, 65, received a knighthood in the 2023 New Year Honours for contributions to the arts that stretch back four decades.

He made his name as a filmmaker after co-founding the Black Audio Film Collective in London. Their first film essay, Handsworth Songs (1986), challenged mainstream coverage of the 1985 riots in Birmingham and London.

Akomfrah's visually experimental, richly layered films often reference colonial history, diaspora communities, and environmental concerns.

The six-screen video installation Purple (2017), for instance, incorporates footage of Alaska, Greenland, the Tahitian Peninsula, and the Marquesas Islands in a meditation on climate change. It remains on view at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington D.C. through 7 January 2024.

Akomfrah was chosen for Venice by a seven-member judging panel.

Kim McAleese, director of the Edinburgh Arts Festival and one of the judges, said 'John's consistent defiance in his poetic presentations of colonial legacies, and his commitment to filmmaking ... have revolutionised Black British art practice.'

Emma Ridgway, who curated Sonia Boyce's presentation for the British Pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale in 2022, described Akomfrah as 'one of the most outstanding artist filmmakers working today.'

'In his moving image works, Akomfrah poetically layers fictitious and factual narratives that compellingly invite us to embrace the complex realities of migrant diasporas,' she said.

Other artists representing their countries at Venice Biennale 2024 include Edith Karlson (Estonia), Julien Creuzet (France), artist duo Pakui Hardware (Lithuania), and Guerreiro do Divino Amor (Switzerland). —[O]

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