James Barnor: Past, Present, Future

James Barnor: Past, Present, Future

Serpentine Gallery presents Past, Present, Future, a new series of films celebrating the work and legacy of British-Ghanaian photographer James Barnor, in collaboration with CIRCA on the Piccadilly Lights screen, every evening throughout April.

The presentation on the Piccadilly Lights screen completes a journey that began more than half a century ago when Barnor photographed BBC Africa Service presenter, Mike Eghan against the backdrop of Piccadilly’s neon signs in 1967. That electrifying image was the inspiration behind Ferdinando Verderi’s Vogue Italia cover, with Barnor’s remote-shooting model Adwoa Aboah standing in the exact same location to create a present reflection on the past. This is the first partnership between CIRCA and a major gallery to find new collaborative ways of presenting world-leading artists in the public realm. Serpentine will also host a major survey of Barnor’s work, dubbed James Barnor: Accra/London – A Retrospective which will run from 19 May to 22 October 2021. Focusing on the period 1950-1980, the exhibition selects from more than 40,000 available images, all distinguished by Barnor’s unmistakable eye and indelible connection to his sitters.

Barnor’s Past, Present, Future will be broadcast in three films, each spanning a period of 10 days, throughout April. The first is the Past (1-10 April), which is a visual journey through Barnor’s photographs taken in London throughout the 1960s, directed by Ferdinando Verderi, the creative director of Vogue Italia, featuring Black models such as Erlin Ibreck and Marie Hallowi, to street observations of Pearly Kings and Covent Garden market traders, culminating with the making of a present-day Vogue Italia cover. The second is the Present (11-20 April): London-based creative director Olu Michael Odukoya will revisit and reinvent the archive of Barnor exploring three themes that have synergies jointly across Barnor’s and Odukoya’s work using sound performance, video, animation, and graphics. The last is the Future (21-30 April), a spotlight on five emerging photographers from Africa and the diaspora: David Nana Opoku Ansah, Silvia Rosi, Thabiso Sekgala, Adama Jalloh and Lebohang Kganye, curated by Culture Art Society (CAS) to reflect on their shared trajectories to Barnor’s archive and supported with funds raised by the #CIRCAECONOMY.


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