Award-winning artist uses archival film footage

Did you know that the Whitworth is currently showing John Akomfrah's multi-screen video installation Vertigo Sea, first shown at the Venice Biennale in 2015? My attention was drawn to it by the way in which he combines recently-shot footage with archival material and readings from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick (1851) and Heathcote Williams’ epic poem Whale Nation (1988) to create a powerful piece that comments on our turbulent relationship with the sea and its role in the history of slavery, migration and conflict. There's a link here with the early history of the Surrealists and their view that you can encourage people to look at things in radically different ways by setting two apparently unrelated objects down beside one another. As you struggle to understand what you're seeing and hearing, you're compelled to think more deeply about familiar sounds and images. 

John Akomfrah, Still from Vertigo Sea, 2015, 3-channel HD video installation.

John Akomfrah, Still from Vertigo Sea, 2015, 3-channel HD video installation.

If you're someone who uses film in your own artistic practice, have you ever thought of using archival material in your own work? We've a large selection of lantern slides and photographs relating to the history of Birmingham School of Art that you could draw on if you were making a piece around ideas of memory and the ways in which it's embedded in a place.