Opening: Liverpool Biennial
Three channel HD video installation, 7.1 sound
45 minutes 48 seconds
Director: John Akomfrah
Producers: Lina Gopaul and David Lawson
This multilayered and immersive installation investigates how identity is not an essence or being but instead a ‘becoming’, a product of history, memory and the intersections of the public and private.
Exploring the personal archive of the influential and acclaimed cultural theorist Stuart Hall (born 1932 Kingston, Jamaica), for whom identity and ethnicity are not fixed, but are the subject of an ‘ever-unfinished conversation’ the work unfolds over three large screens as Hall discusses his discovery of a personal and political identity.
Focusing on Hall’s “formative years” in the 1950s and 1960s, Akomfrah describes the work as an exercise in “spectropoetics”: a re-visitation of the ghosts that haunt a life.
Mixing a myriad of far ranging literary references, including William Blake, Charles Dickens and Virginia Woolf and carefully constructed archival sequences, Akomfrah uses Halls own life to investigate his theories and notions on identity, immigration and selfhood.
Identities are formed at the unstable point where personal lives meet the narrative of history. Identity is an ever-unfinished conversation.