John Akomfrah ©

Photographer: Christian Cassiel © John Akomfrah; Courtesy Lisson Gallery

We have commissioned artist and filmmaker John Akomfrah RA to represent Great Britain at the 60th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia in 2024. John Akomfrah’s British Council Commission for the British Pavilion will run from 20 April – 24 November 2024.

Meet John Akomfrah

Akomfrah, who was recently honoured with a knighthood in the 2023 UK Honours list, is known for his art films and multi-screen video installations, which explore major issues including racial injustice, colonial legacies, diasporic identities, migration and climate change.

The London-based artist initially came to prominence in the early 1980s as part of the Black Audio Film Collective (BAFC), a group of seven artists founded in 1982. The BAFC's first film was Handsworth Songs (1986) which explored the events around the 1985 riots in Birmingham and London. In recent years, his multichannel video works have evolved into ambitious, multi-screen installations shown in galleries and museums worldwide. In 2017, he won the Artes Mundi prize, the UK’s biggest award for international art. He has previously participated in La Biennale di Venezia with his piece Four Nocturnes, commissioned for the inaugural Ghana Pavilion in 2019.

On accepting the British Council commission, John Akomfrah said:

'It is a huge privilege and an honour to be asked to represent the UK at the 60th Venice Biennale – it is without a doubt one of the most exciting opportunities that an artist can be presented with. I see this invitation as recognition of, and a platform for all those I have collaborated with over the decades, and who continue to make my work possible. I’m grateful to be given a moment to explore the complex history and significance of this institution and the nation it represents, as well as its architectural home in Venice – with all the stories it has told and will continue to tell.'

We have appointed Tarini Malik as Associate Curator of the British Pavilion to work alongside John Akomfrah and the British Council team to develop this exciting exhibition. This post is generously supported by Shane Akeroyd and offers mid-career curators a unique professional opportunity to work with a leading British artist on a global platform.

About the British Pavilion Selection Committee 

The artist commissioned to represent Great Britain at the Biennale Arte is selected by an advisory panel of leading visual arts professionals, from across the UK. The panel membership changes for every edition of La Biennale di Venezia’s International Art and Architecture Exhibitions. The panel selecting the artist for 2024 was chaired by Skinder Hundal, Global Director of Arts, British Council and Commissioner of the British Pavilion, and the panel consisted of:

Mariam Zulfiqar – Director, Artangel

Ekow Eshun – Curator and Editor-in-Chief Tank magazine

Melissa Appleton – Director of Programme Peak Cymru and de Appel Curatorial Fellow 2023

Kim McAleese – Director, Edinburgh Art Festival

Melanie Pocock – Acting Artistic Director, Exhibitions, Ikon;

Khanyisile Mbongwa – Curator, Liverpool Biennial

Emma Ridgway – Chief Curator, Modern Art Oxford and Curator (Shane Akeroyd Associate Curator), British Pavilion, La Biennale di Venezia 2022.

See also