Larry Achiampong: Reliquary 2

John Hansard Gallery, Southampton, United Kingdom
01 Oct 2020 - 31 Jan 2021

Larry Achiampong, Reliquary 2, 2020.

Larry Achiampong, Reliquary 2, 2020.

John Hansard Gallery, part of the University of Southampton, is pleased to announce its reconsidered autumn and winter 2020 programme, featuring a new commission by Larry Achiampong.

Screened simultaneously on John Hansard Gallery’s website and on the gallery’s Digital Array, Larry Achiampong’s new moving image work Reliquary 2 will premiere from 1 October. The work uses animated sequences and unseen drone footage from Achiampong’s archives. Continuing his exploration of colonialism and nationalism, agency and technology, ancestry and familial relationships, in Reliquary 2 Achiampong directly addresses his own children in the context of the current pandemic.

Due to the emerging pandemic, Larry Achiampong’s solo exhibition at John Hansard Gallery, When the Sky Falls, was forced to close early on 14 March 2020. Resonding to these circumstances, the Gallery commissioned him to create a new artwork reflecting on the personal and social impact that the pandemic and subsequent lockdown has had.

Reliquary 2 is a film work formed of animated sequences and unseen drone footage from Larry Achiampong’s personal archives, complemented by an original score composed and performed by the artist. The film is a meditation on a period of separation between Achiampong and his children, where the artist observes his own familial narrative within the pandemic and the trauma of forced isolation during unprecedented times. Speaking directly to his children, Reliquary 2 is an archive of contemplative prose and a historical record during what has been a surreal and challenging period for many.

Ancestry and familial relationships are integral to the artist’s examination of postcolonial identities. Previously where he has revisited memories of the past with his mother, this piece is consciously projected towards the future, using the present to provide and shape a dialogue with his progeny. In engaging in this form of intergenerational dialogue, the experiences of the present are regarded with a consideration that has been historically absent in the treatment of our ancestor’s narratives.

Agency and technology are a primary focus in Achiampong’s practice and have proven prescient especially as a response to the stasis of a period of enforced quarantine. Digital technology has been relied upon for many as the sole means of interaction and communication and has become embedded within our daily lives to become an intimate projection of ourselves as much as avatars to hide behind.

Reliquary 2 features animation by Wumi Olaosebikan and is a continuation of Achiampong’s Relic Traveller series (2017), a multi-site and multidisciplinary speculative project that builds upon a postcolonial perspective informed by technology, agency and the body, and narratives of migration. Mixing the visual poetry with generational healing, the series explores past, present and future, through narratives of Pan Africanism and African diasporic identity in relation to colonialism, postcolonialism and the heightened nationalism of current times.


Watch the film here.



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