John Akomfrah The Unfinished Conversation 2012

  • Not on view

John Akomfrah's Unfinished Conversation is a large-scale three-channel video installation that traces the life and work of the cultural theorist Stuart Hall. Hall was born in Jamaica, arrived in England as a student, and went on to become an influential figure of the British New Left and a foremost public intellectual. This work interweaves his biography with key national and international events, such as the attack on the working class in Britain and the Suez Crisis, thereby linking the personal with the historical. Akomfrah—a founding member of the Black Audio Film Collective, which was established in the 1980s—uses archival footage and original interviews. Throughout, he evokes Hall's concept of "becoming," which Hall explains in the video by describing identity as "an ever-unfinished conversation." Made two years before Hall's death in 2014, the installation is a testament to the ongoing impact of the thinker's ideas on artists and cultural institutions.

Gallery label from Unfinished Conversations, March 19-July 30, 2017
Three-channel video (color, sound)
45 min.
The Contemporary Arts Council of the Museum of Modern Art, The Friends of Education of The Museum of Modern Art, and through the generosity of Bilge Ogut and Haro Cumbusyan
Object number
© 2018 Smoking Dogs Films; Courtesy Lisson Gallery
Media and Performance Art
Research in progress; information about this work may be incomplete.