Titled Nine Muses, the work is a collision of noise, narrative and moving image woven together to create a new and strange landscape that evokes the sense of loneliness and loss faced by immigrants entering alien lands. It is also historically-situated, showing the daily lives of African migrants who entered Britain following the British Nationality Act of 1948. Nine Muses is the full-length version of Akomfrah’s video installation, Mnemosyne. This name comes from Greek pantheon, with Mnemosyne – the personification of memory – being the mother of the Muses who together form a complete picture of the poetic art.
Described as a ‘cinepoem’, this film builds an elegant trauerspiel – a song cycle of mourning and remembrance – on the foundations of English literature. Just like Shakespeare and Dylan Thomas, Milton and Sophocles, this piece coheres to create an epic poem that evokes the arduous and unpredictable nature of migration.