The Ghosts of Songs

In a contemporary art world characterised by exploration of the documentary, the archival impulse, the resurgent interest in the video essay, in collectivity, collaboration and the possibilities of alternative pedagogy, the cine cultural practice of the Black Audio Film Collective (BAFC) could not be more timely. Founded at Portsmouth Polytechnic in 1982 by Sociology, Fine Art and Psychology undergraduates John Akomfrah, Reece Auguiste, Edward George, Lina Gopaul, Avril Johnson, Claire Joseph, who was later replaced by David Lawson and Trevor Mathison, the group who relocated to London in 1984, produced some of the most influential films and videos of recent times before formally dissolving in 1998. Despite its currency, the group's work owes little to the present; it is singular, it inhabits a dimension of timely untimeliness. This yields its own complications. The title of their current retrospective The Ghost of Songs, which we curated, hints at the temporal hypothesis of the exhibition. Can a past that the present has yet caught up with be summoned to haunt the presenta as an alternative?

The Otolith Group, This Day Remains, Frieze Issue 106 April 2007.

Installation View
©The Otolith Collective 2007

Project Category

Black Audio Film Collective

Audio: Kodwo Eshun in discussion

Voices of The Rising Tide (pdf, 0.20MB)