John Akomfrah: Purple

November 23, 2022 – January 7, 2024

John Akomfrah at his London studio, 2016. © Smoking Dogs Films; Courtesy Smoking Dogs Films and Lisson Gallery. Photography by Jack Hems.

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Independence Ave. at 7th St., SW
Washington, DC

John Akomfrah: Purple introduces the artist’s largest ever video installation, an immersive six-channel work, to Washington, D.C., for the first time.

An enveloping, hour-long symphony of image and sound, Purple (2017) weaves together original film with archival footage against a hypnotic score to address themes related to climate change. Surveying a variety of disappearing landscapes, including parts of Alaska, Greenland, the Tahitian Peninsula, and the South Pacific’s volcanic Marquesas Islands, Akomfrah conveys the interconnected relationship between the built and natural worlds in the Anthropocene. His striking images of these vulnerable environments mingle with historical recordings of coal mines, polluted lakes, and factory labor, set against a resonant soundtrack of original music, archival recordings, and spoken word. These elements come together to form a moving meditation on the impact of human progress on the Earth.

Akomfrah is a London-based artist and filmmaker whose works are characterized by their investigations into memory, post-colonialism, temporality, and aesthetics. His works often explore the experiences of migrant diasporas globally.