Sir John Akomfrah on Receiving ‘the Ultimate Accolade in an Artist’s Life’

The British Pavilion Artist 2024 talks about his work for the 60th Venice Biennale and how support from Frieze enabled it to be realized in its full glory  

BY John Akomfrah in Frieze , Interviews , Videos | 12 MAY 24
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Sir John Akomfrah – British Pavilion Artist 2024 – talks about the challenge of approaching what he calls ‘pretty much the ultimate accolade in an artist’s life’, representing his country at the 60th Venice Biennale.

Akomfrah’s work for the British Pavilion, Listening All Night to the Rain, looks at post-colonial themes alongside the climate crisis and personal references to dub and UK club culture, a formative influence on him when he was growing up. The work winds through seven chambers (or ‘cantos’) and the exterior of the pavilion to take viewers (and listeners) on an interwoven sonic and visual journey. ‘I have always been interested in the epistemological properties of sound,’ he explains. ‘Its abilities to offer insight into how we should live.’

‘John is someone who has been so dedicated to representing voices from across the gamut,’ says Tarini Malik – Shane Akeroyd Associate Curator of the British Pavilion at the 60th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. ‘That is what Britishness is about.’

‘I am profoundly grateful to the British Council for this opportunity,’ says Akomfrah, who also thanks Frieze for its support in realizing the work at Venice this year.

Watch the video for the full story.

The British Council commission, Listening All Night to the Rain by Sir John Akomfrah, is at the British Pavilion at the 60th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia 2024, 20 April–24 November 2024.

A new work by Akomfrah, The Secret Life of Memorable Thingswill be unveiled as the Cork Street Galleries Banners commission for London Gallery Weekend (31 May–2 June).

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John Akomfrah is an artist, writer, film director, screenwriter, theorist and curator. He will represent the UK at the Venice Biennale in 2024. He lives and works in London.