Larry Achiampong, Wayfinder, 2022 © Larry Achiampong. All rights reserved, DACS/Artimage 2022 / Courtesy the artist and Copperfield, London
Larry Achiampong: Wayfinder
May 20 – Oct 29, 2023
Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art
Gateshead, UK

From 20 May 2023, Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art will present a major solo exhibition by British-Ghanaian artist Larry Achiampong across the Level 2 and Level 3 galleries. The exhibition will include the artist’s debut feature-length film Wayfinder

(2022) commissioned by Turner Contemporary with MK Gallery and Baltic.

Working in film, sculpture, installation, sound, collage, music and performance, Achiampong draws on his personal and shared heritage to explore class, gender, the intersection between popular culture and the residues of colonisation. His work examines digital identities and constructions of ‘the self’, offering multiple perspectives that reveal the deeply entrenched inequalities in our society.

Wayfinder is Achiampong’s most ambitious film to date. Set in a pandemic in the not-too-distant- future, the film follows the intrepid journey of a young girl, ‘The Wanderer’ (played by Perside Rodrigues), across England; from Hadrian’s Wall in the North to the sea at Margate in the South. The Wanderer passes through different regions, towns and landscapes, encountering people, stories and situations on her way. Presented across six chapters, including The North, The Land of Smoke and The Kingdom of the East, this epic film explores class and economic exclusion, belonging and displacement, cultural heritage and the meaning of home. The Wanderer acts as a witness to accounts, conversations, places and histories.

Wayfinder considers British traditions of travel and exploration of the sublime landscape and the sea – reflecting on the divisions and crisis in the UK today. Addressing an unreconciled history of empire and inequality, the film combines sweeping shots with poetic voice-over narratives, melded with real ‘vox pop’ testimonies, field recordings and an original orchestral score composed by Achiampong. Its cast includes former athlete Anita Neil OLY, who is Britain’s first Black female Olympian, musician and artist Mataio Austin Dean, and a voice-over by Ma Toshie and Russell Tovey among others. Wayfinder has recently been longlisted for a BAFTA award in 2023 in the category ‘Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer’, and is the 2023 winner of Aesthetica Prize.

Other works in the exhibition include Achiampong’s multi-disciplinary Relic Traveller project (2017 – ongoing) which envisages a Pan-African alliance of travellers who explore landscapes of the near future, collecting testimonies of those who have been historically oppressed by colonialism, capitalism and globalisation. The artist’s Relic films are accompanied by flags and a new series of life-size Relic Traveller figures (The Relic Travellers’ Alliance: Assembly 1 & 2, 2021).

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