John Akomfrah makes beautiful, poignant films. Vertigo Sea was originally exhibited at the 56th Venice Biennale as part of a larger exhibition All the Worlds Futures. Here it was shown in the large lofty spaces of the Arnolfini. The Arnolfini works really well as a large video installation space. A lot of work gets lost in these concrete rooms but these pieces swelled to meet them.
I loved this show. The films were sumptuous and the colours just beautiful. Shot the Isle of Skye, Faroe Islands and the north of Norway the light is stunning. Strung together to tell the story of Moby Dick and Whale Nation, the piece used clips from the BBCs Natural History Unit alongside images of slaves making their own perilous journeys. There was a lot of symbolism and wonder, highlighting global environmental concerns and natural phenomenons. A tree covered in butterflies erupts as they fly on mass up into the sky. Shoals of fish soar across deep blue shimmery waterscapes. Then vast expanses of sea scape, perhaps with a lone figure, or a lone boat, solitary and alone.
Film uses additive colour (light) to create colour. The colours in these films were vibrant and luminous. The shots seemed very tonal, relying on one main colour with perhaps another colour as a highlight or focal point. The greatest sensation was of light, light from the landscapes they were shooting in and the light of the strong colours reflecting back at you.