John Akomfrah’s Vertigo Sea

Was having dinner with my daughter at Marisol at MCA Chicago last week and got there a little early, enough time to wander into the Water After All exhibit with John Akomfrah’s Vertigo Sea three-screen documentary as the centerpiece. Absolutely stunning. Could only stay for 20 of the 40 minutes, and will make a point to return for the whole thing before the exhibit ends on June 14th.

From an interview with Tate in 2015, the year he produced Vertigo Sea:

“The question of why history matters is connected to why the non-fictive or non-fictions matter. ‘Cause you could tell…and I’m using the two phrases here in metaphoric terms…you know you could tell when a surplus of fiction got into the mix.

You know, so, one of the reasons why um, uh, I was compelled in a way to make Vertigo Sea is because, you know, you’re sitting there, listening to someone referring to quote unquote migrants as cockroaches. And you think, okay, what’s going on here.

How do people migrate from being human beings to cockroaches. What do you have to forget, what’s the process of amnesia that allows the kinds of forgetting that builds into hierarchies in which there are beings and non-beings.”


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