NEWS: John Akomfrah’s Peripeteia @ Tyneside Cinema Gallery | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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In 1982, while he was still at university, John Akomfrah set up the Black Audio Film Collective, one of the very first groups to challenge how black British people were represented on celluloid and the wider media. His 1986 film Handsworth Songs thrust Akomfrah into the spotlight, thanks to its unflinching exploration of the 1985 riots in Birmingham and London. Thirty years later, Akomfrah is hailed as one of the most influential filmmakers in Britain, having tackled issues of race, post-colonialism and migration in a variety of visual media.

To coincide with the showing of his 2015 film Vertigo Sea at Amolfini Bristol, one of the artist’s most recent and intriguing works, 2012’s Peripeteia, will be on show in the Tyneside Cinema Gallery this month. Peripeteia utilises two paintings by sixteenth century artist Albrecht Durer, one of a bearded black male and the other of a black woman wearing a close-fitting bonnet. Though they are two of the earliest Western representations of black people, the film describes their existence as “lost to the winds of history”. Akomfrah takes the subject of these paintings and turns them into Peripeteia’s protagonists, who wander the contemporary moors. Using nineteenth century photography, the film is a compelling exploration of disappearance, cultural memory and the diaspora.

Akomfrah himself will appear at the Tyneside for a conversation with the cinema’s Curator of Artist Film Elizabetta Fabrizi on Friday 29th January, before a season of his films shows throughout February. Encompassing a wide range of his works, including The Stuart Hall Project (Tuesday 2nd February), Seven Songs For Malcolm X (Thursday 4th February), The Genome Chronicles (Thursday 18th February) and Who Needs A Heart (Tuesday 23rd February), the season will provide a unique opportunity to see the cultural icon’s films on the big screen and add a further insight into his powerful body of work.

John Akomfrah’s Peripeteia comes to the Tyneside Cinema Gallery from Saturday 30th January until Wednesday 24th February.

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