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John Akomfrah Selects

A stunning selection of films from the Arts Council England film collection, curated by John Akomfrah for ‘History is Now: 7 Artists Take On Britain’ (Hayward Gallery, 10 February – 26 April 2015).

Between 1953 and 2003 ACE documented British arts and artists in an extensive series of innovative films.

John Akomfrah’s selection brings back into focus these extraordinary films, many of which have been unseen for years, providing a glimpse into a range of intellectual, cultural and political transformations that shaped Britain in the second half of the 20th century.

As well as tracing societal shifts, the films chart the development of the medium of film. Akomfrah has focused on examples in which an art form – be it painting, sculpture, dance or photography – has been challenged and expanded by its relationship with film. He has also included experimental films that can be considered artworks in their own right.

"Many of the films that I have selected from the Arts Council Film Collection can be seen as sites of convergence. The most successful ones are those where the meeting of different art forms has a transformative impact on all of the elements involved."

John Akomfrah

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John Akomfrah Selects
View Francis Bacon: Paintings 1944-1962
Francis Bacon: Paintings 1944-1962
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Francis Bacon: Paintings 1944-1962 1963

David Thompson’s wordless film from 1963 presents an unsettling montage of images from Bacon’s major mid-period works.

11 mins United Kingdom Director. David Thompson

View Barbara Hepworth at the Tate
Barbara Hepworth at the Tate
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Barbara Hepworth at the Tate 1969

A record of the famed sculptor’s 1968 Tate retrospective, accompanied by a fascinating narration by Hepworth herself.

12 mins United Kingdom Director. Bruce Beresford

View Pace
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Pace 1995

Katrina McPherson’s dance film intimately tracks the frenetic movements of a solo dancer, accompanied by an electronic score by Philip Jeck.

5 mins United Kingdom Director. Katrina Mcpherson

View Jeff Keen Films
Jeff Keen Films
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Jeff Keen Films 1983

An aptly playful profile of the experimental filmmaker, introduced by Keen’s alter-ego Dr. Gaz.

36 mins United Kingdom Director. Margaret Williams

View Photomontage Today: Peter Kennard
Photomontage Today: Peter Kennard
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Photomontage Today: Peter Kennard 1983

An analysis of the use of photomontage to distort meaning and create subversive and oppositional art, exemplified by the work of Peter Kennard.

35 mins United Kingdom Director. Chris Rodrigues, Rod Stoneman

View Sign Is a Fine Investment
Sign Is a Fine Investment
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Sign Is a Fine Investment 1983

This fascinating documentary charts the history of advertising from 1897 up to 1960 – as the era of the Mad Men took hold.

44 mins United Kingdom Director. Judith Williamson

View The Lacey Rituals
The Lacey Rituals
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The Lacey Rituals 1972

Performance artist Bruce Lacey’s singular take on the home movie, documenting the minutiae of family life from bath-time to toast-making.

60 mins United Kingdom Director. Bruce Lacey, Jill Lacey, Tiffany Lacey, Saffron Lacey, Kevin Lacey

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