Sublime Seas at the SFMoMA...

10:48

17/04/18 - The newly renovated San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is presenting John Akomfrah's "Vertigo Sea", a three-screens installation which presents a mixture of fiction, Nature documentaries and stories of the sea, a recurring subject among artists because of the dramatic refugees crisis. Akomfrah also refers to the cruelty of whaling and the slave commerce during the time of the colonies, taking the observer into a visual and very eclectic odyssey.

Vertigo Sea, by John Akomfrah
Video-installation in three channels, 48 minutes (detail)
Everything starts with a sequence of natural beauty and frozen landscapes, dolphins, whales and polar bears, but soon the artists faces us with the cruelty of military experiments at sea and the search in deep waters for oil. Seconds later he registers the dramatic consequences of climate change: glaciers melt, collide and disappear in the water. 
The music is solemn and in line with the whisper of the whales, although constantly interrupted by the bangs of shots and explosions. Everything emerges unexpectedly, specially the stories of those who survived captivity or those who found death at sea. Here it's mentioned what happened during the last dictatorship in Argentina: a woman explains, in English, how prisoners were thrown from helicopters to the sea and babies were separated from their captive mothers.

Vertigo Sea, by John Akomfrah
Video-installation in three channels, 48 minutes (detail)
Akomfrah enhances the notion of vertigo, presenting a man dressed in European 18th Century fashion, gazing at the sea from the coast. His figure is outlined from the coastal landscapes in a clear reference to Caspar David Friedierich's romantic painting. This character appears again and again against the beauty and horrors of the ocean.
Vertigo Sea, by John Akomfrah
Video-installation in three channels, 48 minutes (detail)
This experience, at first purely visual, becomes visceral or, maybe, a mixture of both.  
"Vertigo Sea" is exhibited together with "The Deluge" by J.M.W. Turner (UK, 1775 – 1851) and both are part of Sublime Seas

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Contents

Liliana Wrobel


Production & Translation

Carla Mitrani

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