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A live music and sonic exploration of themes within John Akomfrah’s exhibition Vertigo Sea led by artist and musician Seth Cooke.

“… diasporic lives (are) characterised by an absence of ruins. There are no monuments that even as ruins attest to your existence, of your passing through a space. This then means that the intangibles, be they sound or words, become necessary building blocks. Lives that are not legitimised in the official monument can then be given a certain kind of legitimacy.” John Akomfrah

Labyrinthite, Triangular Trade will be performed by a contrabass ensemble of local musicians accompanied by bowed seashells, djembe resonance, thwarted field recording, a virtual acoustic model donated and prepared material referencing Bristol’s response to the globalising religion of hip-hop. 

Triangular Trade takes its name from the system of trading between three ports or regions, the most notorious example of which was the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The composition addresses the significance of situating the UK premiere of John Akomfrah’s Vertigo Sea at Arnolfini in Bristol, a city that has yet to reconcile its current consciousness with its participation in the slave-based Atlantic economy.  

Seth Cooke is a Bristol-based artist and musician whose work explores perturbed environments, feedback processes and aberrant models. He is a founding member of the Bang the Bore collective. His work, as an individual and with the collective, has been performed at Bradford’s Gallery II, Southampton’s John Hansard Gallery, and Medieval Vaults, Oxfordshire’s Supernormal Festival and here at Arnolfini. His music has been published on Another Timbre, Hideous Replica, Compost and Height, LF Records, 1000füssler and Organised Music From Thessaloniki.


Alongside the event,  UWE Associate Professor of History Madge Dresser will present a talk regarding Bristol’s legacy of involvement with the Atlantic slave economy.

 Her publications include Slavery Obscured: The social history of the slave trade in Bristol  (2001, 2007), and Black and White on the Buses: the Story of the 1963 Campaign against the Colour Bar on Bristol’s Buses(1984, 2007,2013); Ethnic Minorities and the City: Bristol 1000-2000 (2007, 2009), with Peter Fleming; Slavery and the British Country House (edited with Andrew Hann for Historic England 2013). She also edited and co-authored Women and the City: Bristol 1373-2000I which was published this March.