John Akomfrah

John Akomfrah, Seven Songs for Malcolm X

17 – 23 March 2014

Seven Songs for Malcolm X

“I believe in the brotherhood of man, all men, but I don’t believe in brotherhood with anybody who doesn’t want brotherhood with me. I believe in treating people right, but I’m not going to waste my time trying to treat somebody right who doesn’t know how to return the treatment” Malcolm X.

The African-American civil rights leader Malcolm X was assassinated on 21 February 1965.

“For me, my ‘X’ replaced the white slave master name of ‘Little’ which some blue-eyed devil named Little had imposed on my parental forebears.” Malcolm X.

Through archival footage, extracts from Malcolm’s writings and speeches, recollections from family, friends and fellow activists, and stylised tableaux vivants, Seven Songs For Malcolm X, Black Audio Film Collective’s seventh film, weaves a compelling portrait of a committed revolutionary.

“When we look at other parts of this Earth upon which we live, we find that black, brown, red, and yellow people in Africa and Asia are getting their Independence. They are not getting it by singing “We shall over come”. No, they are getting it through Nationalism. It is Nationalism that brought about the independance of the people in Asia…. and it will take Black Nationalism to bring about the freedom of 22 million Afro-Americans here in this country where we have suffered colonialism for the past 400 years….” Malcolm X

The stylised tableaux vivants that memorialise Malcolm’s life reference the early 20th century funeral photography of James Van der Zee’s The Harlem Book of the Dead and the static cinematography of Sergei Paradjanov’s The Colour of Pomegranates.

Transfigured Night (2013), John Akomfrah’s two-screen installation exploring the disappointments of post-Independence Africa, is currently on view at Carroll / Fletcher as part of a group exhibition featuring work by Phoebe Boswell and Rashaad Newsome. Click here for further information on the exhibition.

Click here to view John Akomfrah’s artist page at Carroll / Fletcher.