Museu Coleção Berardo presents a new exhibition of works by British artist and filmmaker John Akomfrah. His most ambitious project to date, Purple is an immersive, six-screen video installation which charts the incremental shifts in climate change across the planet and its effects on human communities, biodiversity, and the wilderness. As the follow up to Vertigo Sea (2015), Akomfrah’s standout work at the 56th Venice Biennale, Purple forms the second chapter in a planned quartet of films addressing the aesthetics and politics of matter. Symphonic in scale and divided into six interwoven movements, Akomfrah has combined hundreds of hours of archival footage with newly shot film and a hypnotic sound score to produce the video installation.
Purple is staged across a variety of disappearing ecological landscapes, from the hinterlands of Alaska to desolate, icy Arctic Greenland and the volcanic Marquesas Islands, in the South Pacific; each location prompts the viewer to meditate on the complex relationship between humans and the planet. At a time when, according to the UN, greenhouse gas emissions from human activities are at their highest levels in history, with people experiencing the significant impacts of climate change, including shifting weather patterns, rising sea level, and more extreme weather events, Akomfrah’s work brings a multitude of ideas into conversation—including mammalian extinctions, the memory of ice, the plastic ocean, and global warming.
Commissioned by the Barbican, London and co-commissioned by Bildmuseet Umeå, Sweden; TBA21-Academy; The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston; Museu Coleção Berardo, Lisbon; and the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow.