The MacKenzie Art Gallery Looks to the Future with 'John Akomfrah: The Last Angel of History'

The MacKenzie Art Gallery Looks to the Future with 'John Akomfrah: The Last Angel of History'

January 14, 2017

REGINA, SK — This winter, the MacKenzie Art Gallery takes a step into the past to find the future with its presentation of the 'The Last Angel of History' (1996), by ground-breaking and internationally acclaimed British artist and filmmaker John Akomfrah, who brings to the fore questions of race and post-colonial identity in his installations and films. 'The Last Angel of History' introduces audiences to the “data thief,” a mysterious figure who travels through space and time in search of a key to the future of black culture. This cinematic essay asks viewers to consider the science fiction themes of alien abduction, estrangement, and genetic engineering as metaphors for the Pan-African experience of forced displacement, cultural alienation, and otherness.

“John Akomfrah’s 'The Last Angel of History' is a classic of independent cinema,” says Anthony Kiendl, the MacKenzie Art Gallery’s Executive Director and CEO. “It’s part of a series of exhibitions, looking at some of the most enduring and popular film and video artworks of our recent past from around the world, including Fischli & Weiss’s 'The Way Things Go', and Anthony McCall’s 'Line Describing a Cone 2.0'.

The theme of futurism is one that the MacKenzie is exploring in detail this year, with its involvement in the Initiative for Indigenous Futures (IIF),a multidisciplinary project with partners from universities, galleries, and community organizations across Canada working with Indigenous youth and Elders to build a vibrant future — and to consider what that future might look like. The IIF will encompass workshops on Aboriginal storytelling and digital media design; residencies involving artists and participants from other disciplines such as governance, health, law, and community activism; and a series of symposia on imagining the future.

“As we move forward with the Initiative for Indigenous Futures, which includes aspects of science fiction, it seems fitting to start the year with 'The Last Angel of History', which is a landmark in thinking about Afrofuturism and science fiction as a vehicle for exploring alternative futures,” Kiendl says.

The MacKenzie Art Gallery’s presentation of 'The Last Angel of History' coincides with Black History Month in February, when the MacKenzie will host related programming at the Gallery.

'The Last Angel of History' is on view at the MacKenzie Art Gallery from January 14 to May 22, 2017.

Black History Month Events:
February 1, 2017 | 7:00 PM | Black History Month / African Canadian History Month Celebration
Featuring a lecture by Dr. Barbara McNeil with an interactive exploration of 'John Akomfrah: The Last Angel of History'.
Presented in partnership with Saskatchewan African Heritage Museum (SACHM)

7:00 PM | 'Opportunities, Triumphs, Challenges, and Optimistic Vision of People of African Descent in Saskatchewan'
a lecture by Dr. Barbara McNeil
8:00 PM | Interactive Exhibition Exploration and Coffee Reception

February 5, 2017 | 2:00 to 4:00 PM | Studio Sunday Storytelling
'Li’l Shad: A Story of Ujima' by Miriam Korner and Alix Lwanga

Image: Video Still from 'The Last Angel of History', courtesy of Icarus Films.