Exhibitions | Commissions

John Akomfrah
The Unfinished Conversation

26 October 2013 - 23 March 2014

Tate Britain

London, UK

Past exhibition

Autograph ABP's acclaimed commission The Unfinished Conversation is coming to London

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.

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

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


Tate holds the national collection of British art from 1500 to the present day and international modern and contemporary art


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.


Panel discussion: John Akomfrah

14 March, 6:30 - 8pm

Tate Britain, London

Read more »

An Autograph ABP commission

Autograph ABP has commissioned artists since 1990. Our commissions bring visibility to photographic histories and practices that have often been overlooked.
Past commissions >

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.

Press contact

For further information, images and interviews, please contact Lois Olmstead at Autograph ABP - phone 020 7720 9200 or email lois@autograph-abp.co.uk

Additional Info

Tate Britain
Gallery 93 (Focus A)
Millbank, London SW1P 4RG

020 7887 8888

Tate Britain is fully accessible

  • Still from John Akomfrah, The Unfinished Conversation
  • Still from John Akomfrah, The Unfinished Conversation