The Ghosts of Songs

  • 2 February 2007 - 1 April 2007

FACT is delighted to present The Ghosts of Songs, the first exhibition devoted to the work of the Black Audio Film Collective, one of the most distinguished artist groups to emerge from Britain in recent years. The Black Audio Film Collective (BAFC) was founded in 1982 by seven undergraduates in Sociology and Fine Art: John Akomfrah, Lina Gopaul, Avril Johnson, Reece Auguiste, Trevor Mathison, Edward George and Claire Johnson, who left in 1985 and was replaced by David Lawson. The Collective formally dissolved in 1998.

In many ways, BAFC were a unique group. Based initially in east, and later north, London, they produced internationally acclaimed, award winning slide-tape texts, films and videos; far more than any other artist group of the time. These explorations of belonging and intimacy combined a montage aesthetic with personal reflection to invent a new genre of moving image that challenged traditions of British documentary and drama, and profoundly influenced contemporary avant-garde film-makers and theorists.

In the 1980s, the collective were known as exceptional curators, whose film courses, seminar series and screening programmes brought avant-garde cinema, from India, Brazil, Cuba, Senegal and the USA, to London audiences for the first time. The desire to build an independent cineculture remained constant through the group's numerous theoretical, critical, speculative and fictional writings. Unlike other moving image artists, the collective was not restricted to a single cultural context, but operated within and between the cultural spaces of the international film festival, the art gallery and broadcast television.


The Ghosts of Songs invites audiences to engage with the Black Audio Film Collective through a series of chambers, installations, vitrines and digital interfaces, designed by the renowned architectural office Adjaye Associates, that allow a variety of encounters with the works.

The Ghosts of Songs has been conceptualised, curated and produced by Kodwo Eshun and Anjalika Sagar of The Otolith Group, which they founded in 2002. The Otolith Group is based in London and their work includes film, video, sound, text and curation, that examine different platforms for contemporary art practice. Their films and installations have featured in international exhibitions - including The Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Biennial of Contemporary Art of Seville, Spain, The Hayward Gallery and The Tate, London - and in 2006 The Otolith Group was the recipient of the Decibel Award from Arts Council England.

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