Larry Achiampong: Race, Rights and Sovereignty
The Glasgow School of Art

Event Type:

Guest Lecture


Reid Lecture Theatre, 164 Renfrew Street


26 Sep 2019
18:00 - 20:00



Video Still, Larry Achiampong, The Expulsion
Single Channel 4K Video with Stereo Sound, 2019

Larry Achiampong: Race, Rights and Sovereignty

Event info

Free but ticketed - book online via Eventbrite.

Larry Achiampong's solo and collaborative projects employ imagery, aural and visual archives, live performance and sound to explore ideas surrounding class, cross-cultural and post-digital identity.

With works that examine his communal and personal heritage – in particular, the intersection between pop culture and the postcolonial position, Achiampong crate-digs the vaults of history. These investigations examine constructions of ‘the self’ by splicing the audible and visual materials of personal and interpersonal archives, offering multiple perspectives that reveal entrenched socio-political contradictions in contemporary society.

Achiampong solo presentation 'The Expulsion' is currently showing at The Gallow Gate in Glasgow. The Expulsion is a new and deeply personal work from the imagination of the artist. Newly commissioned by The Gallow Gate, the short film highlights the rich interior world of an unnamed migrant with references to themes of race, class and gender.

In this work, Achiampong invokes the energy and memories of a pre-gentrified 1990s east London; weaving testimonies and daydreams with the monotonous rhythms of physical labour and the weight of frustrating consumerist aspirations in the city's West End.

The narrator forces an imagined viewer to look at what has been made unseen; cleaners, labourers, janitors, porters, bouncers and sanitation workers each attempting to claim the spoils (and that which has been spoiled). 

In 'The Expulsion', Achiampong guides us through to a shadow world of “invisible” workers by transmuting the common acts of cleaning and maintenance into something that has the power of the rituals of prayer or a sequence of launch codes. Each repetition evokes an attempt to reach apotheosis, to leave the loop or at the least; shake off the signifiers of difference and poverty. 

Occupying various processes of (re)exploring time travel (via the spoken word, the visualisation of a memory and the ambiance of an evolving soundtrack), this work builds on Achiampong’s concept of sanko-time, a theory at the core of the artist’s recent practice. Based in the Ashanti word “sanfoka” – roughly translated as to go back for what has been left behind. Sankofa also alludes to using the past to prepare for the future; essentially, the wish of being able to go back to an immutable point to make sure that what has been lost is not lost no longer. Although a new term, it reflects resilience from the oldest traumas of the African diasporas.

Shot in 4k resolution, The Expulsion’s lyrical script, undulating visuals and hypnotic original score connect an ever-present past to current concerns of societal iniquity, class ceilings and erased histories. 

In Race, Rights and Sovereignty, Achiampong retraces his work to date with a particular focus on the process and development of his most recent work, The Expulsion.


This event is part of the Race, Rights and Sovereignty programme at The Glasgow School of Art, jointly organised by GSA Exhibitions and the GSA Students' Association. This event is also co-hosted by the GSA's Design History & Theory department, and The Gallow Gate.

The Expulsion by Larry Achiampong is open until Sunday 29 September 2019 at The Gallow Gate (Many Studios, 3 Ross Street, Glasgow, G1 5AR).