Diaspora-Artists logo


Black Audio Film Collective

Founded 1981, London, UK

Active 1983-98 in London, England.
Members: John Akomfrah, Reece Auguiste, Eddie George, Lina Gopaul, Avril Johnson, Trevor Mathison, and David Lawson.

The Black Audio Film Collective’s work was included in the From Two Worlds exhibition at Whitechapel Art Gallery, 30 July - 7 September 1986. A still from Black Audio Film Collective’s Seven Songs for Malcolm X, 1993 was reproduced in Keith Piper’s Relocating the Remains catalogue, the main text of which was written by Kobena Mercer. The chapter in which the film still appears is Anatomies of the Body Politic, Its Central Nervous System: 1991 - 1996. Arguably the Collective’s most important and celebrated work, Handsworth Songs was referenced in It’s a Bit Much, the brochure text written by Eddie Chambers, for Barbara Walker’s 2006 exhibition at Unit 2 Gallery, London Metropolitan University, Louder Than Words.

From the archived Documenta 11 website : www.documenta12.de//archiv/d11/data/english/index.html

Black Audio Film Collective was one of the film and video workshop collectives set up in the 1980s in the aftermath of inner city protests against British Institutional racism. As part of a movement for greater cultural and political representation for and by black people in Britain, it can be seen as part of the ongoing process of Britain’s post-colonial history. Handsworth Songs, (1986, directed by John Akomfrah), was their most controversial work. Shot in the aftermath of the riots against discrimination and unemployment in Handsworth, Birmingham, the film reworks the documentary form to consider the history of contemporary black experience in Britain. Video images of the riots are intercut with interviews with Handsworth residents, interior monologue, evocative music and then counter pointed with archival footage of earlier immigration into Britain and ironically used mainstream-media coverage of the riots. Black Audio Film Collective’s fragmented and self-reflexive aesthetic strategies opened up a politics of representation which has been immensely influential both in independent and Diaspora film-making and foundational for the emerging discipline of cultural studies itself.”

The Black Audio Film Collective’s work was discussed and illustrated in Exiles, Diasporas & Strangers, one of four books in a series titled Annotating Art’s Histories, jointly published by The MIT Press, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts and iniva the Institute of International Visual Arts, London, published in 2008 and edited by Kobena Mercer. The chapter relating to the Black Audio Film Collective was Diaspora, Trauma and the Poetics of Remembrance, by Jean Fisher.

Handsworth Songs was included in the major Migrations: Journeys into British Art exhibition at Tate Britain, in 2012. The catalogue included more than three pages of edited text of an interview with Akomfrah by Lizzie Carey-Thomas and Paul Goodwin, two of the curators of the exhibition. Within the text, Akomfrah discussed the history and development of his practice and that of the Black Audio Film Collective. The text had fascinating insights into the development of Black visual art practice in Britain, from the early 1980s onwards. The Akomfrah text was followed by several pages of an interview with Kodwo Eshun, in which he discusses, amongst other things, the significance of Handsworth Songs and the Black Audio Film Collective. (It was Eshun, as part of the Otolith Group, who was co-curator of the Black Audio Film Collective retrospective, The Ghosts of Songs).

Related items - view 5

click to show details of A Bizarre Form of Anthropology

»  A Bizarre Form of Anthropology

Article relating to an exhibition, 1987

click to show details of Black Audio Film Collective - Arnolfini exhibition guide

»  Black Audio Film Collective - Arnolfini exhibition guide

Exhibition guide relating to an exhibition, 2007

click to show details of Black Film British Cinema

»  Black Film British Cinema

Book relating to an exhibition, 1988

click to show details of Black Grammatology

»  Black Grammatology

Article relating to an exhibition, 2007

click to show details of Contrived Passions and False Memories

»  Contrived Passions and False Memories

Article relating to an exhibition, 1987

click to show details of Documenta 11- Frieze Review 1

»  Documenta 11- Frieze Review 1

Review relating to an exhibition, 2002

click to show details of Documenta 11- Frieze Review 2

»  Documenta 11- Frieze Review 2

Review relating to an exhibition, 2002

click to show details of Documenta 11_Platform 5 : Exhibition / Catalogue

»  Documenta 11_Platform 5 : Exhibition / Catalogue

Catalogue relating to an exhibition, 2002

click to show details of Documenta 11_Platform 5 : Exhibition / Short Guide

»  Documenta 11_Platform 5 : Exhibition / Short Guide

Catalogue relating to an exhibition, 2002

click to show details of Donald Rodney | In Retrospect

»  Donald Rodney | In Retrospect

Invite relating to an exhibition, 2008

click to show details of Donald Rodney | In Retrospect - invite

»  Donald Rodney | In Retrospect - invite

Invite relating to an exhibition, 2008

click to show details of Exiles, Diasporas & Strangers

»  Exiles, Diasporas & Strangers

Book relating to a publication, 2008

click to show details of The force of black film

»  The force of black film

Article relating to an exhibition, 1987

click to show details of From Two Worlds - catalogue

»  From Two Worlds - catalogue

Catalogue relating to an exhibition, 1986

click to show details of From Two Worlds - press release

»  From Two Worlds - press release

Press release relating to an exhibition, 1986

click to show details of The Ghosts of Songs - Artforum International - T.J. Demos

»  The Ghosts of Songs - Artforum International - T.J. Demos

Article relating to an exhibition, 2007

click to show details of The Ghosts of Songs - invite

»  The Ghosts of Songs - invite

Invite relating to an exhibition, 2007

click to show details of The Ghosts of Songs press release

»  The Ghosts of Songs press release

Press release relating to an exhibition, 2007

click to show details of The Ghosts of Songs | A Retrospective of the Black Audio Film Collective

»  The Ghosts of Songs | A Retrospective of the Black Audio Film Collective

Exhibition guide relating to an exhibition, 2007

click to show details of The Ghosts of Songs | The film art of the Black Audio Film Collective

»  The Ghosts of Songs | The film art of the Black Audio Film Collective

Catalogue relating to an exhibition, 2007

click to show details of Handsworth Songs

»  Handsworth Songs

Article relating to an exhibition, 1987

click to show details of In the heart of the black box

»  In the heart of the black box

Article relating to an exhibition, 2002

click to show details of Invitation to The Ghosts of Songs

»  Invitation to The Ghosts of Songs

Letter relating to an exhibition, 2007

click to show details of Invitation to The Ghosts of Songs

»  Invitation to The Ghosts of Songs

Letter relating to an exhibition, 2007

click to show details of Island Stories | Ameena Meer talks to Keith Piper

»  Island Stories | Ameena Meer talks to Keith Piper

Article relating to an individual, 1992

click to show details of Migrations: Journeys into British Art - catalogue

»  Migrations: Journeys into British Art - catalogue

Catalogue relating to an exhibition, 2012

click to show details of Mothership Connection

»  Mothership Connection

Invite relating to a film, 1995

click to show details of Mysteries of July

»  Mysteries of July

Invite relating to a film, 1991

click to show details of Reel Life

»  Reel Life

Article relating to an exhibition, 1987

click to show details of Relocating the Remains

»  Relocating the Remains

Catalogue relating to an exhibition, 1997

click to show details of The show that maps out art’s future

»  The show that maps out art’s future

Review relating to an exhibition, 2002

click to show details of Song of Handsworth praise

»  Song of Handsworth praise

Letter relating to an exhibition, 1987

click to show details of Songs doesn’t know the score

»  Songs doesn’t know the score

Article relating to an exhibition, 1987

click to show details of Third Eye | Struggle for Black & Third World Cinema

»  Third Eye | Struggle for Black & Third World Cinema

Catalogue relating to a conference, 1983

click to show details of This Day Remains

»  This Day Remains

Article relating to an exhibition, 2007

click to show details of Voices of the Rising Tide

»  Voices of the Rising Tide

Article relating to an exhibition, 2007

click to show details of Waldemar Januszczak | There is a world elsewhere

»  Waldemar Januszczak | There is a world elsewhere

Review relating to an exhibition, 1986

click to show details of Young, British and Black

»  Young, British and Black

Book relating to an exhibition, 1988

Related exhibitions + view all 9

»  Mothership Connection

Film 1995

»  Mysteries of July

Film 1991

Related venues + view all 9

»  Arnolfini

Bristol, United Kingdom

»  Fruitmarket Gallery

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

»  Whitechapel Art Gallery

London, United Kingdom