Exciting Times for Artes Mundi 7 Prize Winner, Sir John Akomfrah

Earlier this month, Sir John Akomfrah received a knighthood in the New Year’s Honours List for his services to the Arts. To add to this impressive recognition, this week, it has been announced that Akomfrah will represent Britain at the 2024 Venice Biennale.


Akomfrah was the winner of the Artes Mundi 7 prize in 2017 where he presented his diptych film, Auto da Fé (2016) which uses the aesthetics of a period drama to consider the historical and contemporary causes of migration, focusing on religious persecution as a major cause of global displacement.


Ghanian-born Akomfrah is a seminal figure in Black British Cinema and a forerunner in digital cinematography. For 30 years the artist, director, writer and theorist has been highlighting the legacy of African diaspora in Europe by creating films that explore marginalised histories of European society. His body of work is considered one of the most distinctive and innovative in contemporary Britain.


Accepting the Venice Biennale commission, Akomfrah commented, “I’m grateful to be given a moment to explore the complex history and significance of this institution [the British Pavilion] and the nation it represents, as well as its architectural home in Venice, with all the stories it has told and will continue to.”


From all of us at Artes Mundi, we send our hearty congratulations to John for this timely recognition of the quality and legacy of his work at the forefront of filmmaking.


Last year, Sonia Boyce represented Britain at the 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia and won the Golden Lion prize for her work Feeling Her Way.