Exhibitions | Commissions

John Akomfrah
The Unfinished Conversation

10 May - 14 July 2013

New Art Exchange

Nottingham, UK

Free exhibition

The Unfinished Conversation examines the nature of the visual as triggered across an individual’s memory landscape.

Autograph ABP have commissioned John Akomfrah to create a new film. In this multi-layered three-screen installation, The Unfinished Conversation examines the nature of the visual as triggered across an individual’s memory landscape. With particular reference to identity and race, the film presents academic Stuart Hall’s memories and personal archives, extracted and relocated in an imagined and different time to reflect on the questionable nature of memory itself.

As a co-founding member of the Black Audio Film Collective (1982), John Akomfrah achieved critical success in 1986 with his debut film documentary, Handsworth Songs. Through his celebrated technique of juxtaposing and layering archive footage with newand historical photo stills, soundscapes, personal testimonies and text, AKomfrah investigates and unpacks the complexities of identity through his practice. Previous films include: The Nine Muses (2010), Mnemosyne (2009), Seven Songs for Malcolm X (1993) and Handsworth Songs (1986). Akomfrah is now recognised as one of Britain’s most pioneering and intellectually rewarding film-makers.

The Unfinished Conversation premiered at The Bluecoat as part of the Liverpool Biennial 2012.

What the press says

Much more than biopic, Akomfrah juxtaposes archive news footage, readings of William Blake, Dickens and Virginia Woolf and most of all Hall's own voice, to describe the world's tumbling. Hall's thoughts about identity, immigration and selfhood, evolve through a roar of telling images. Akomfrah's film, like the essence of Hall's work, is about the conundrum of being in the world, and is as unexpected as it is brilliant.

Adrian Searle, The Guardian

The Unfinished Conversation deserves at least three viewings

Sanjay Brown, LeftLion Art

'The Unfinished Conversation' is certainly, in my opinion, the most accomplished of films in the biennial and it is both deeply moving as well as visually beautifully shot and edited

Natalie Parsley, A-N

Akomfrah’s film stands out as a work of substance that says important things about what Britain has become over the last half century.

Mark Hudson, The Telegraph

Anyone with an interest in identity will find this compelling

Mark Sheerin, Culture 24

...the power of this film, a power magnified by its projection on three big screens so that one's eyes are forever flicking between [them].

Mark Patterson, Nottingham Post

In this film, we see Hall still at his charismatic best...reminding those of us who work in the field of his inestimable influence.

Roger Bromley, Ceasefire

In partnership with

New Art Exchange, Nottingham

New Art Exchange is a contemporary art gallery committed to stimulating new perspectives on the value of diversity within art and society.


The Unfinished Conversation commissioned by

Autograph ABP

Executive Producer

Mark Sealy

Mark Sealy MBE is the Director of Autograph ABP. He is currently a PhD candidate at Durham University, his research focuses on photography and cultural violence.

Produced by

Lina Gopaul and David Lawson, Smoking Dogs Films

In collaboration with

Professor Stuart Hall

Stuart Hall is a cultural theorist and sociologist. He was one of the founding figures of the school of thought that is now known as British Cultural Studies.


Stuart Hall & John Akomfrah: Creating Monument Symposium

8 June 2013, 11am - 5pm

New Art Exchange, Nottingham

Read more »

Gallery Tour of The Unfinished Conversation

Saturday 1 June, 12pm

New Art Exchange, Nottingham

Read more »

Gallery Tour of The Unfinished Conversation

Saturday 22 June, 12pm

New Arts Exchange, Nottingham

Read more »

Press contact

Press images and information is available in the Press Dropbox

For further information, images and interviews, please contact Lois Olmstead at Autograph ABP - phone 020 7720 92200 or email lois@autograph-abp.co.uk

Project funded by

Grants for Arts, Arts Council England and supported by the Bluecoat, New Art Exchange, Nottngham and The Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, Harvard University, Cambridge and Smoking Dogs Films Production.

With kind support from NAXOS Books, The Open University, BBC, Time Images, Getty Images and Paul Gerhardt.

Additional Info

Venue Details
New Art Exchange
39 – 41 Gregory Boulevard
Nottingham NG7 6BE

0115 924 8630

Monday: 9am - 5pm
Tuesday: 9am - 5pm
Wednesday: 9am - 5pm
Thursday: 9am - 5pm
Friday: 9am - 5pm
Saturday: 9pm - 5pm
Sunday: Closed. Open 9am - 5pm during June and July

New Art Exchange is fully accessible. To reserve disabled parking bays please call 0115 924 8630

Screening times
Screenings of The Unfinished Conversation will start on the hour from 10am - 4pm. We advise viewing the full duration of the piece which is around 45 minutes.

As seen in:

  • Still from The Unfinished Conversation
  • Still from John Akomfrah, The Unfinished Conversation
  • Installation of The Unfinished Conversation at New Art Exchange