John Akomfrah commission on display at Tate Britain

13 Oct 2021 - 2 Apr 2023

about the commission on display

In 2011, Autograph commissioned John Akomfrah to create The Unfinished Conversation - a beautiful, multi-layered film about Jamaican-born academic Professor Stuart Hall. The work debuted at the Bluecoat as part of the Liverpool Biennial 2012 to overwhelming critical acclaim, and toured internationally. After being jointly acquired by Tate and the British Council in 2014, the commission is now on display at Tate Britain in Sixty Years: The Unfinished Conversation.

Since the early 1980s, John Akomfrah’s moving image works have offered some of the most rigorous and expansive reflections on the culture of the black diaspora, both in the UK and around the world. The Unfinished Conversation is an immersive three-channel video installation, and examines the nature of the visual as triggered across the individual's memory landscape with particular reference to identity and race. The film sees academic Stuart Hall's memories and personal archives extracted and relocated in an imagined and different time, reflecting the questionable nature of memory itself. The Unfinished Conversation looks at the theory that identity is not an essence or being but instead a becoming, where individual subjectivities are formed in both real and fictive spaces.

The Unfinished Conversation is an Autograph commission, produced by Lina Gopaul and David Lawson, Smoking Dogs Films, in collaboration with Professor Stuart Hall. Executive producer Mark Sealy, Director of Autograph. The project was funded by Grants For Arts, Arts Council England and supported by the Bluecoat, New Art Exchange, Nottingham and the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, Harvard University, Boston, Royal College Inspire Programme and Smoking Dogs Films Production.  With kind support from NAXOS Books, The Open University, BBC, Time/Image and Getty Images.

see the commission on display


Find out more on the Tate Britain website


Tate Britain
Millbank, London

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Autograph commissions

Supporting artists is essential to us at Autograph. We’ve been commissioning the making of new work since 1989, inviting creative practitioners to explore ideas of representation, identity, rights and social justice.

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The joint Tate / British Council acquisition of The Unfinished Conversation was supported by a grant from the Art Fund.

Banner image: The Unfinished Conversation installation at The Power Plant, Toronto. Part of the exhibition The Unfinished Conversation: Encoding/Decoding, 24 Jan - 18 May 2015. Curated by Gaëtane Verna and Mark Sealy.

Discover more image: From Dexter McLean, Untitled [detail], 2020, © and courtesy the artist. Commissioned by Autograph for for Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other