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.
Medium
Three-channel video (color, sound)
Duration
45 min.
Credit
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
243.2016
Copyright
© 2018 Smoking Dogs Films; Courtesy Lisson Gallery
Department
Media and Performance Art
Research in progress; information about this work may be incomplete.

Installation views

MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos.

If you notice an error, please contact us at digital@moma.org.

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

All requests to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA should be addressed to Scala Archives at firenze@scalarchives.com. Motion picture film stills or motion picture footage from films in MoMA's Film Collection cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For licensing motion picture film footage it is advised to apply directly to the copyright holders. For access to motion picture film stills please contact the Film Study Center. More information is also available about the film collection and the Circulating Film and Video Library.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication or moma.org, please email text_permissions@moma.org. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to archives@moma.org.

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to digital@moma.org.