John Akomfrah: ›Vertigo Sea‹

John Akomfrah’s three-channel film installation premiered at the 56th Venice Biennale (2015) as a part of Okwui Enwezor’s exhibition ›All the World’s Futures‹. ›Vertigo Sea‹ is a poetic and self–contained meditation on the relationship between human beings and the sea in the post–colonial era. The piece highlights current issues related to global migrations, neo-colonialist forms of slavery, and ecological deterioration. Combining archival material, readings from classical sources (including Ralph Waldo’s ›Emerson‹, Herman Melville’s ›Moby Dick‹ and Heathcote Williams’ ›Whale Nation‹), and recent footages of the seascape, the work denounces the horror of the whaling industry as well as the scourge of the perilous journey of African migrants across the ocean. The dynamic force, life-generating essence, and overwhelming visual beauty of the waters are here placed against the rough reality of the ocean as a locus of genocide, political instability, and peril.