at home: Artists in Conversation | John Akomfrah and Trevor Mathison

June 25, 2021

John Akomfrah, artist and filmmaker, and Trevor Mathison, sound artist, in conversation with Indie A. Choudhury, Postgraduate Associate in the Center’s Research department

at home: Artists in Conversation

Join us for lively and inspiring conversations with some of today’s most notable artists. at home: Artists in Conversation brings together curators and artists to discuss various artistic practices and insights into their work.

About John Akomfrah

Akomfrah is an artist and filmmaker whose works investigate memory, postcolonialism, and temporality, often exploring experiences of migrant diasporas globally. Akomfrah was a founding member of the influential Black Audio Film Collective (1982–98), a group of seven Black British and Black diaspora multimedia artists and filmmakers who were responding to the social unrest in Britain in the 1980s and pushing the boundaries of the documentary form. Akomfrah still collaborates with the artists Lina Gopaul, David Lawson, and Trevor Mathison, with whom he founded the collective. Their first film, Handsworth Songs (1986), explored the events surrounding the riots of 1985 in Birmingham and London. The film won several international prizes and established a multilayered visual style that has become a standard of Akomfrah’s practice. Other works include the three-screen installation The Unfinished Conversation (2012), a moving portrait of the cultural theorist Stuart Hall’s life and work; Peripeteia (2012), an imagined drama visualizing the lives of individuals included in two portraits by Albrecht Dürer; and more recently, Four Nocturnes (2019), the final part of a trilogy of films, including Vertigo Sea (2015) and Purple (2017), that reflect on the existential threat of ecological disaster. In 2008, Akomfrah was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE). He received the European Cultural Foundation’s Princess Margaret Award in 2012. And, in 2017, he won the biennial Artes Mundi Prize, the UK’s biggest award for international art, while also being appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). Akomfrah’s work has been exhibited in museums and galleries worldwide. 

About Trevor Mathison

Mathison is a composer, sound designer, and recordist. His sonic practice centers in creating fractured, haunting, aural landscapes, which sometimes integrate existing music. Mathison is a pioneer of sound installation work while his music compositions have been featured in over 30 award-winning films. As a founding member of the Black Audio Film Collective, his body of sonic designs defined the collective’s film works and gallery installations, including Signs of Empire (1983), Handsworth Songs (1986), and The Last Angel of History (1995). After the collective disbanded in 1998, Mathison has continued to work with some of his former collaborators from the collective, creating sound design for installations and feature documentaries, including Mnemosyne (2010) and The Unfinished Conversation (2012). His most recent compositional scores feature in Akomfrah and Dread Scott’s Slave Rebellion Reenactment (2019), Garret Bradley’s award-winning feature America (2019), and Lubaina Himid’s installation Naming the Money (2020). Mathison has also founded and practices in a number of other experimental sonic groups, including Dubmorphology, Hallucinator, and Flow Motion. 


Presented through the generosity of the Terry F. Green 1969 Fund for British Art and Culture, this program is held in conjunction with the Center's online exhibition Art in Focus: The Provocation of Conditions.