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Listening all Night to the Rain

John Akomfrah at his London studio, 2016. © Smoking Dogs Films. Courtesy Smoking Dogs Films and Lisson Gallery


John Akomfrah

Press release

National Participation - Great Britain

Listening All Night To The Rain continues artist and filmmaker John Akomfrah’s investigation into themes of memory, migration, racial injustice and climate change with a renewed focus on the act of listening and the sonic. The exhibition, conceived as a single installation with eight interlocking and overlapping multi-screen sound and time-based works, is seen as a manifesto that encourages the idea of listening as activism and positions various progressive theories of acoustemology: how new ways of becoming are rooted in different forms of listening. Encouraging visitors to experience the British Pavilion’s 19th century neoclassical building in a different way, Akomfrah’s commission interprets and transforms the fabric of the space in order to interrogate relics and monuments of colonial histories.

Open-ended in structure, the alliterative nature of the exhibition is reflective of the artist’s abiding interest in non-linear forms of storytelling and collage. Listening All Night To The Rain repositions the role of art in its ability to write history in unexpected ways, forming both critical and poetic connections between different geographies and time periods.

John Akomfrah said: “Listening All Night To The Rain alludes to the performative power that the sonic will hold in the Pavilion. The final ensemble of installations – iterations of acoustemology – detours back to questions of memory and of memorial but from a different vantage point, questioning the architectonics of the present and the spectres of the past, with the idea of listening as activism in mind. I sense that one can know the world – that you can find a name, an identity and a sense of belonging – via the sonic.”

Commissioner: Skinder Hundal MBE Global Director of Arts at the British Council
Curator: Tarini Malik