Dir: John Akomfrah, 1986, UK, Cert: 15
Wed 23 October // 19:30 / Cinema
Handsworth Songs (1986, 58 min)
In October 1985 Britain witnessed a spate of civil disturbances in the Birmingham district of Handsworth and in urban centres of London. These were violent, tragic events, marked by the death of an elderly black woman, Joy Gardner and a white policeman, Keith Blakelock. One of the first films from the Black Audio Film Collective, Handsworth Songs refuses to reduce an analysis of these events to a simple demonising or rationalising of the rioters and their motives; instead, Akomfrah demonstrates how the media is complicit in perpetuating loops of anxieties among their white audiences over the presence of black people in Britain.
With Peripeteia (2012, 18 min)
Peripeteia (Greek: περιπτεια; a reversal of circumstances, or turning point) takes as its starting point two drawings by the sixteenth century artist Albrecht Dürer, Head of a Negro Man (1508) and Portrait of the Moorish Woman Katharine (1521), two of the earliest representations of black people in Western art. Filmmaker John Akomfrah imagines the lives of this black man and woman in a moving visualisation of stories.
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This screening is part of a broader programme celebrating the work of filmmaker and artist John Akomfrah, in cooperation with the BALTIC Centre for Contermporary Art. John Akomfrah first came to prominence in the early 1980s through his work with the Black Audio Film Collective, and has since become known as one of the most accomplished moving image artists in the UK. Perhaps best known for his thoughtful and complex use of archival materials in his films, as well as his nuanced reflections on the culture of the black diaspora, Akomfrah is a filmmaker who skillfully weaves past and present, memory and material throughout his work. As a companion to Akomfrah’s multi-screen works currently on exhibit at the BALTIC (6 July–27 October), along with an all-day workshop on ‘Akomfrah and the Archive’ at Newcastle University’s Culture Lab (23 October), five of Akomfrah’s single-screen films will be shown at the Star and Shadow:
Please come join us for this rare opportunity to see these films on a big screen!
We thank the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art for their generous support of this programme.