Researched developed and curated over five years, in 2007 The Otolith Collective curated the first major survey exhibition on The Black Audio Film Collective (BAFC).
As long time fellow travellers of Kodwo Eshun and Anjalika Sagar of The Otolith Group, the curators were committed to exploring a large body of work produced by BAFC in the context of the art institution and gallery. This was to broaden the scene and setting of the essay film so that audiences could be afforded time to think alongside the long duree of their practice. With attention to aurality and the image, the curators worked with an exhibition design to create an environment that would allow BAFC's extensive moving image and sonic practice to be seen at once, in concert and together.
They wrote :
"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?"
Inaugurated in 1983 and dissolved in 1998, the 7 person Black Audio Film Collective are widely acknowledged as one of the most influential artist groups to emerge from Britain during the 1980s. From their base in East London, John Akomfrah, Lina Gopaul, Avril Johnson, Reece Auguiste, Trevor Mathison, David Lawson and Edward George produced award winning film, photography, slide tape, video, installation, posters and interventions, much of which has never been exhibited in Britain.
The Ghosts of Songs is the first Retrospective to explore this important body of work. Curated and produced by Kodwo Eshun and Anjalika Sagar of The Otolith Group, it reveals the Collective as resolutely experimental, defiantly articulate artists, dedicated to engaging with the past, present and future of memory, media and moving image.
This exhibition installation has been designed by Adjaye Associates and was produced in partnership with FACT, Arnolfini, The Whitechapel Gallery, inIVA and Artsadmin.
The Ghosts Of Songs: The Film Art of The Black Audio Film Collective is edited by The Otolith Group and published by FACT, Liverpool University Press and Chicago University Press.
The exhibtion was opened at FACT in Liverpool and travelled to the Arnolfini in Bristol. The exhibition did not come to the capital.
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