John Akomfrah: Vertigo Sea

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© Smoking Dogs Films, Courtesy Lisson Gallery John Akomfrah 'Vertigo Sea' (2015) film still

The British artist's acclaimed work from the Venice Biennale is sailing into Melbourne as part of a festival about art and climate change

This triptych video installation deep dives into the dark history of the 'sea' as a site for human atrocity, animal cruelty and migration. 

Ghanaian-born artist John Akomfrah has described his practice as a kind of bricolage, because his works combine found footage from various sources with his own staged film creations. In Vertigo Sea, he uses footage shot on the Isle of Skye, the North Atlantic's volcanic Faroe Islands, and coastal Norway.

Taking narrative inspiration from Herman Melville’s 19th century novel Moby-Dick and Heathcote Williams’ 1988 poem 'Whale Nation', the film looks at whaling, migration and the slave trade, among other dark maritime moments.

Vertigo Sea is showing as part of the ART+CLIMATE=CHANGE festival. 

By: Dee Jefferson

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