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John Akomfrah's Vertigo Sea at Bildmuseet

Press release -

John Akomfrah's Vertigo Sea at Bildmuseet

Press and journalists are welcome to the preview in connection to the Swedish premiere of John Akomfrahs new three-channel film installation Vertigo Sea, a meditation on man's relationship with the sea. As first touring venue after the 2015 Venice biennale, the film will have its Swedish premiere at Bildmuseet in cooperation with BAC–Baltic Art Center.

Vertigo Sea is a narrative of man and nature, beauty, violence and the vulnerability of life. It addresses the role of the sea for migration, in war and conflict, for the history of slavery and colonization. Herman Melville's novel Moby Dick and Heathcote Williams Whale Nation are two of its literary points of reference.

For thirty years, spanning cinema, television and gallery-based installations, Akomfrah has engaged with questions of memory and identity, creating works which give voice to the legacy of the African diaspora in Europe. His poetic films are sensual audio-visual experiences that stretch the boundaries of the documentary genre and the format of the film essay. The rich imagery in Vertigo Sea is sourced from historical archives, nature photography, news as well as newly staged footage.

Vertigo Sea premiered at the 2015 Venice Biennale, All the World's Futures. As a first touring venue, the work is now presented at Bildmuseet in collaboration with BAC–Baltic Art Center.

The preview takes place on Saturday 24 October at 12:00 in conjunction with an artist talk by John Akomfrah. Lina Gopaul and David Lawson of Smoking Dogs Films will also take part [programme]. Pre-booking is required no later than Thursday 22 October. After the talks, journalists will have the opportunity for individual interviews. Book your time slot via email please.

Opening on Sunday 25 October at 14:00 [programme]. John Akomfrah will make a presentation of Vertigo Sea, which will be screened continuously during Bildmuseet’s opening hours until 17 January 2016.

John Akomfrah (b. 1957, Accra, Ghana) lives and works in London. He was one of the founders of the seminal Black Audio Film Collective together with, among others, David Lawson and Lina Gopaul with whom he still collaborates today. His work has been shown at the Liverpool Biennial, Documenta 11, De Balie in Amsterdam, Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Serpentine Gallery and Whitechapel Art Gallery in London, MoMA in New York and at the Cannes, Toronto and Sundance international film festivals, among others.

Vertigo Sea is a Smoking Dogs Films production supported by Bildmuseet and BAC–Baltic Art Center, the Swedish Arts Council, Sharjah Art Foundation, BBC Natural History Unit, British Film Institute, Arts Council of England and Tyneside Cinema Gallery.

Press images may be downloaded at Bildmuseet’s website.

Contact information

Further information on John Akomfrah/Vertigo Sea:
Director Katarina Pierre, Bildmuseet, +46 90-786 9632

Questions about the preview, individual interviews or press images:
Helena Vejbrink, press and communications officer, +46 90-786 9073



Bildmuseet exhibits contemporary international art, photography, architecture, design and other forms of visual culture, along with art historical retrospectives. Existential, political and philosophical issues are key to the programme. Last year the kunsthalle received a Special Commendation from the European Museum of the Year jury last year, and was one of the top candidates for the Swedish Museum of the Year Award as well as for the Council of Europe Museum Prize.

Bildmuseet is a part of Umeå University, housed in an acclaimed building at the Umeå Arts Campus by the shores of the Umeälven river.

Umeå University is one of Sweden's largest institutions of higher learning with over 32,000 students and 4,200 employees.


Helena Vejbrink

Helena Vejbrink

Communication officer Bildmuseet +46 90 786 9073

Umeå University

Umeå University is one of Sweden's largest universities with over 37,000 students and 4,300 employees. The university is home to a wide range of education programmes and world-class research in a number of fields. Umeå University was also where the gene-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 was discovered – a revolution in gene-technology that was awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Founded in 1965, Umeå University is characterised by tradition and stability as well as innovation and change. Education and research on a high international level contributes to new knowledge of global importance, inspired, among other things, by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The university houses creative and innovative people that take on societal challenges. Through long-term collaboration with organisations, trade and industry, and other universities, Umeå University continues to develop northern Sweden as a knowledge region.

The international atmosphere at the university and its unified campus encourages academic meetings, an exchange of ideas and interdisciplinary co-operation. The cohesive environment enables a strong sense of community and a dynamic and open culture in which students and staff rejoice in the success of others.

Campus Umeå and Umeå Arts Campus are only a stone's throw away from Umeå town centre and are situated next to one of Sweden's largest and most well-renowned university hospitals. The university also has campuses in the neighbouring towns Skellefteå and Örnsköldsvik.

At Umeå University, you will also find the highly-ranked Umeå Institute of Design, the environmentally certified Umeå School of Business, Economics and Statistics and the only architectural school with an artistic orientation – Umeå School of Architecture. The university also hosts a contemporary art museum Bildmuseet and Umeå's science centre – Curiosum. Umeå University is one of Sweden's five national sports universities and hosts an internationally recognised Arctic Research Centre.