Calendar: Summer Film Series: Black Audio Film Collective at PAMM

Event Description

Black Audio Film Collective at PAMM presents a selection of films characterized by an interest in the diasporic African experience, memory, and new modes of representation.

Between 1982 and 1998, the Black Audio Film Collective (BAFC)—a seven-person group of British artists and filmmakers—produced groundbreaking documentaries and nonlinear films addressing social, political, and racial crises from a particular moment in Britain. While exploring and examining black British identity through film and media, BAFC's body of work developed new ways to reflect on the past, the present, and the future of black culture.

Members of the collective include John Akomfrah, Reece Auguiste, Edward George, Lina Gopaul, Avril Johnson, David Lawson, and Trevor Mathison.

Black Audio Film Collective at PAMM is presented in conjunction with John Akomfrah: Tropikos. This film series is organized by Pérez Art Museum Miami Assistant Curator Jennifer Inacio.

Film Schedule

July 6, 7pm — Handsworth Songs
Introduction by Yesomi Umolu, Exhibitions Curator at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts

John Akomfrah
Handsworth Songs, 1986 
Color video transferred from 16 mm film, with sound, 58 min., 33 sec.
Courtesy the artist and Lisson Gallery

A video-essay on race and civil disorder in 1980s Britain, Handsworth Songs takes as its point of departure the 1985 Handsworth riots—a violent outburst in Birmingham, England, ignited by widespread unemployment and racial tension. The film weaves archival video, photographs, interviews, and footage of the riots to explore the way in which they were an outgrowth of prolonged suppression of black presence by British society.


July 13, 7pm — Mysteries of July
Introduction by Jason Fitzroy Jeffers, writer and filmmaker

Reece Auguiste
Mysteries of July, 1991
Color video transferred from 16 mm film, with sound, 54 min.
Courtesy the artist and Lisson Gallery

Mysteries of July investigates a number of deaths that occurred under police custody in Britain, revealing the pain of grieving when the factual cause of demise is repressed as a state secret. Organized around an elaborate funerary tableau, the film enacts an intricate ritual of cinematic mourning, relying heavily on symbolism to evoke the emotional.


July 27, 7pm —Seven Songs for Malcolm X
Introduction by Alessandra Raengo, PhD, Associate Professor, Moving Image Studies, Georgia State University

John Akomfrah
Seven Songs for Malcolm X, 1993
Color video transferred from 16 mm film, with sound, 52 min., 45 sec. 
Courtesy the artist and Lisson Gallery

Shot in New York at the time of the release of Spike Lee's critically important movie, Malcolm X (1992), this film portrays the life of the legendary African-American political leader, Malcolm X, aka El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. Layered with documentary footage, stylized reconstructions, and interviews with Malcom X's widow Betty Shabazz, Spike Lee, and others, this video-essay provides a compelling and poetic portrait of postwar American culture and of one of its most mercurial figures.


August 10, 7pm — The Last Angel of History and Memory Room 451
Introduction by Erin Christovale, Assistant Curator, Hammer Museum 

John Akomfrah
The Last Angel of History, 1995
Digital color video, with sound, 45 min., 7 sec. 
Courtesy the artist and Lisson Gallery

The Last Angel of History is one of BAFC's most influential video-essays of the 1990s. This film explores the chromatic possibilities of digital video and takes place in a mythological future, creating connections among black subculture, outer space, and the limits of the human condition. This experimental blend of sci-fi parable and video-essay serves as an essential primer on the aesthetics and dynamics of Afrofuturism and the Pan-African experience of forced displacement, cultural alienation, and otherness.

John Akomfrah
Memory Room 451, 1997
Digital color video, with sound, 22 min.
Courtesy the artist and Lisson Gallery

Memory Room 451 is the most extreme vision of the Neo-Expressionist aesthetic that the group pursued throughout the 1990s. Set in a dystopian world, the film functions as a documentary from the future. A time traveler interviews "old earth people" on hair, desire, and memory as dreams become the new media platform of the 23rd century and time travel is depicted as no more than poorly paid shiftwork.