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Past Event

John Akomfrah & DJ Spooky in Conversation

Mar 5 2020

Seattle Art Museum

Plestcheeff Auditorium

7 PM – 8 PM

John Akomfrah and Paul D. Miller (aka DJ Spooky) revisit The Last Angel of History, and the past, present, and future trajectories of their work.

On view in new exhibition, John Akomfrah: Future History, The Last Angel of History follows the quest of a man known as the Data Thief, who seeks the keys to the future. He turns to his computer as a new source of access to knowledge in the 1990s. On the screen, he finds interviews with and performance clips by many innovators, including musicians Sun Ra, George Clinton, and Derrick May; critic Kodwo Eshun; and writers Octavia Butler, Samuel R. Delany, Ishmael Reed, and Greg Tate. All offer insights into the ways they have found to overcome the stigmas of cultural displacement—initiated originally by slavery—and the underestimation of their capabilities. This gathering of talent and imagination is considered a defining exploration of Afrofuturism.

Akomfrah and Miller's conversation will revisit the landmark film as well as the intersections of their creative interests since its release, including the creation of video installation and music, respectively, that has sparked dialogue about our natural environment and the implications of our current climate crisis.

This program requires a paid ticket, and takes place during SAM's Community Opening when the exhibition will be FREE and open to the public from 5-9pm.

More about the artists:

John Akomfrah (born 1957) has achieved recognition for his experimental approach to making nonlinear video essays. Working with longtime collaborators at Smoking Dogs Films, Akomfrah investigates ways to engage our personal and collective memories. He finds poignant segments from the audiovisual archives of the 20th century and mixes them together with high definition documentary footage and recreations to prompt new understandings about the history of the planet. As Akomfrah has said, “Art can pose problems in unique ways, allowing for other meaningful dialogues. It’s about proposing, not imposing.”

Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky is a composer, multimedia artist and writer whose work immerses audiences in a blend of genres, global culture, and environmental and social issues. His written work has been published by The Village Voice, The Source, and Artforum, among others, and he is the Editor of Origin Magazine. Miller’s work has appeared in the Whitney Biennial; The Venice Biennial for Architecture; the Ludwig Museum in Cologne; Kunsthalle, Vienna; The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, the Miami/Art Basel fair, and many other museums and galleries. Miller’s award-winning book “Rhythm Science” was published by MIT Press 2004, and was followed by “Sound Unbound,” an anthology about electronic music and digital media, in 2008. “The Book of Ice”, an experiential visual and acoustic portrait of the Antarctic, was published in 2011 by Random House.


Supporting Sponsor
Thompson Seattle

Image: Video still from The Last Angel of History, 1995, Black Audio Film Collective, John Akomfrah, single channel colour video, sound, 45 minutes 7 seconds, © Smoking Dogs Films; Courtesy Smoking Dogs Films and Lisson Gallery.

The Seattle Art Museum acknowledges that we are located on the ancestral land of the Coast Salish people.