Afropean Voices during Covid-19: Finding intimacy and clarity

 Baff AKOTO (Ghana, United Kingdom) is an artist and filmmaker who’s work has exhibited at London’s Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) and British Film Institute in their Experimenta strand for “works by artists that revolutionise and reshape our vision of the cinematic moving image”. Raised in Accra and London he has since lived in Kampala and Madrid. His travels throughout the African continent, Southern Europe, South America and the Caribbean have broadened his interactions with African Diaspora globally. It is these encounters which form the conceptual bedrock of his artistic practice.

This COVID-19 pandemic moment is both infinite and residual – as will be its impact on our lives.

Personally, like many others, the lockdowns and social distancing has meant a stronger bonding with my children. This was an unanticipated effect of this unusual moment. We’ve gotten to know each other in renewed and more intimate ways because of the limited opportunities to “escape” to school or work. This fact has forced a 360 degree appraisal of our relationships with those who matter to us, and to observe ourselves through different lenses.

I would like to think that this prolonged intimacy and mutual observation will lead to us “seeing” each other with more clarity and insight than the pace of modern life, pre-pandemic, would ordinarily allow.
Professionally, as an artist, the pandemic has also brought greater clarity. Clarity of focus moving forward.

The unexpected nature and difficulties of this period such as not being able to exhibit work traditionally or keep a reliably travel schedule travel, have framed my thinking around the form my future work may take. The reality around us has changed so much and as such it has influenced how we need and want to engage with films.

I want to venture further into immersive filmmaking or XR (the use of a combination of augmented, virtual, or mixed reality). Thus, I am looking forward to exploring with processes such as virtual and volumetric production techniques (3D) because they allow us to engage with the intimacy we crave.

This perspective is included in the upcoming Collateral Benefits Perspective Paper IV: Voices of the African Diaspora, a collaboration beteeen Collateral Benefits , Fundación Manos Visibles and Afrøpean.

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