With film director John Akomfrah, Great Britain is setting up one of the most anticipated pavilions of the Biennale with an installation that will delve into the act of listening as a form of activism

Racism, colonialism, climate change, the passage of time: all of John Akomfrah's work revolves around these essential themes, which the director explores through jewel-films and multimedia installations with a high emotional content.

The multidisciplinary artist, originally from Ghana but now English by adoption, was chosen to represent the United Kingdom at the British Pavilion of the 60th International Art Exhibition in Venice.

This is one of the most anticipated representations ever. We know that the project, which will be staged at the Giardini, will have a poetic title "Listening All Night To The Rain" and that it will delve deeper into the act of listening, intended as a form of activism while exploring various theories of cosmology.

The neoclassical space of the British pavilion will in fact be invaded by eight interlocking multi-screen sounds, which will challenge conventional notions of history and memory.

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Born in 1957, graduated in Sociology at Portsmouth Polytechnic, John is known in artistic circles (and beyond) for his fundamental role in the legendary Black Audio Film Collective, a collective co-founded in 1982 and made up of multimedia artists and diaspora filmmakers to address the great question of postcolonialism.

At the time it was a tsunami, which culminated with the jewel work "Handsworth Songs" of 1986, where the racial riots in Handsworth and London were recounted. After the collective disbanded in the 1990s, Akomfrah then founded the production company, Smoking Dogs Films, continuing his journey alone but always addressing the most urgent issues of contemporary life.

Akomfrah arrives at the British Pavilion after the triumphant participation of his colleague Sonia Boyce in 2022(read the interview with Sonia Boyce here), which allowed her to win the Golden Lion.

A great responsibility, however, which the director will face head on also thanks to the double Venetian participation that he can show off in his rich CV.

The first took place for the international exhibition curated by the Nigerian Okwui Enwezor in 2015 while the second took place on the occasion of the first (and highly appreciated) national pavilion of Ghana in 2017.

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“John's inspirational style and narrative have continually evolved over four decades, revealing key ideas and questions about the world we inhabit,” explained Skinder Hundal, director global arts at the British Council.

About the body responsible for the British Pavilion at the Biennale: this year the British Pavilion will also be supported by Frieze. The global trade fair and magazine brand will in fact collaborate with the British Council to finance and promote the entire project on its social channels. This is an absolute first: never before has an art fair financially supported a national pavilion in Venice.

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