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In this first episode of a new series of A brush with…, Ben Luke talks to Larry Achiampong about his influences—from writers to film-makers, musicians and, of course, other artists—and the cultural experiences that have shaped his life and work.

Still from Larry Achiampong’s Relic 2 (2019)

Achiampong was born in London in 1984 to parents from Ghana, and he explores his personal and communal heritage through media including film, sculpture, installation, sound and performance. He uses diverse visual languages, drawn from popular culture like gaming, comics and Hollywood movies, as well as video art and conceptualism, to explore the legacies of colonisation and entrenched inequalities in contemporary society relating to class, gender and race.

Installation shot of Larry Achiampong’s Pan African Flags for the Relic Travellers’ Alliance (2017) at Baltic centre for contemporary art

He veers from documentary to speculative fiction, often within the same piece. Achiampong discusses the profound early influence of Adrian Piper’s art and the films of Spike Lee, the poetry of Claudia Rankine, how he draws on video games and comics as well as art, and his rejection of the term Afrofuturism. Plus, he gives insight into his life in the studio, and reflects on our usual questions, including the ultimate: what is art for?

From Larry Achiampong & David Blandy’s _GOD_MODE_ (2023)

• Larry Achiampong: Wayfinder, BALTIC, Gateshead, UK, until 29 October 2023

• Larry Achiampong and David Blandy: Genetic Automata, Wellcome Collection, London, until 11 February 2024.

Installation shot of Larry Achiampong’s Wayfinder at Baltic Centre for contemporary Art, Gateshead

This podcast is sponsored by Bloomberg Connects, the arts and culture app.

The free app offers access to a vast range of international cultural organisations through a single download, with new guides being added regularly. They include two UK galleries that recently hosted Larry Achiampong’s travelling exhibition Wayfinder—MK Gallery in Milton Keynes and Turner Contemporary in Margate. If you download the app, you will find that the MK Gallery guide has in-depth features on current and recent exhibitions, including Larry’s show, with images and audio exploring different works across his career. In the guide to Turner Contemporary, you can hear Larry’s discussion about that version of the show with the curator and writer Aïcha Mehrez, along with features on Turner Contemporary’s latest exhibitions and projects.

Still from Larry Achiampong’s Reliquary (2020)

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