Art Term

Black Audio Film Collective

The Black Audio Film Collective is a pioneering arts initiative founded in 1982 whose ground-breaking experimental works engaged with black popular and political culture in Britain and the black / Asian Diasporas

John Akomfrah, Peripeteia 2012 HD video still

John Akomfrah
Peripeteia 2012
Smoking Dogs Films , © John Akomfrah, still courtesy of Smoking Dogs Film and Lisson Gallery

Black Audio Film Collective was formed by seven undergraduates in Portsmouth in 1982, and was based in Dalston, East London from 1983 to 1998.

In response to the civil disturbances in Brixton in 1981, there was a concerted effort by Channel Four Television, the local metropolitan councils and the films and television unions collectively to provide financial and structural support to black media and cultural makers, in order to promote a black cultural presence in the British media and arts. One of the workshops that negotiated the workshop agreement between the media institutions and cultural makers was the Black Audio Film Collective and, in the sixteen years in which they worked as an artist’s atelier, they produced a rosta of groundbreaking and award winning creative documentaries, non-linear feature films, tape-slide installations, film programmes and screenings that examined the diasporic African and Asian experience in Britain’s and across the continents.

Characterised by an interest in memory, history and aesthetics„ the collective created a series of defiantly experimental works that engaged with black popular and political culture in Britain. The group were also instrumental in bringing an awareness of avant-garde film from Africa, India and South America to the UK.

Artists, filmmakers and writers associated with the group include John Akomfrah, Reece Auguiste, Edward George Lina Gopaul, Avril Johnson, David Lawson, Trevor Mathison .

  • British black arts movement

    The British black arts movement was a radical political art movement founded in 1982 inspired by anti-racist discourse and feminist critique, which sought to highlight issues of race and gender and the politics of representation

  • Black arts movement

    The black arts movement was an ideological movement that emerged in the USA in the early 1960s when black artists and intellectuals came together to organise, study and think about what a new black art and black politics movement might be

  • Identity politics

    Identity politics is the term used to describe an anti-authoritarian political and cultural movement that gained prominence in the USA and Europe in the mid-1980s, asking questions about identity, repression, inequality and injustice and often focusing on the experience of marginalised groups

Explore this term

  • Panel discussion: John Akomfrah

    Chaired by Mark Fisher and including John Akomfrah, Kodwo Eshun (The Otolith Group) and Beatrix Campbell – the panel explores The Unfinished Conversation’s investigation of cultural, ethnic and personal identity through the memories of Stuart Hall.

Selected artworks in the collection