San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Brings The Magnificent World To You

You can always travel the world to expand your horizons and sometimes change your life.

That can be a tremendous life affirming and pathway altering experience.

Having said that, what if you could see or feel the sights and sounds of the world in one place?

There is the great potential for that experience if you visit The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. article, photo credit

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is a modern art museum located in San Francisco, California.

A nonprofit organization, SFMOMA holds an internationally recognized collection of modern and contemporary art, and was the first museum on the West Coast devoted solely to 20th-century art.

The museum’s current collection includes over 33,000 works of painting, sculpture, photography, architecture, design, and media arts.

They are displayed in 170,000 square feet of exhibition space, making the museum one of the largest in the United States overall, and one of the largest in the world for modern and contemporary art.

Well that’s the basics.

Now for some recent news found December 13, 2017 at

Four New Exhibitions of Contemporary Art to Open in March 2018, Including U.S. Premiere of John Akomfrah's Vertigo Sea article, photo credit

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (December 13, 2017) — The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) announces four exhibitions of contemporary art, media arts and architecture and design, all opening in March 2018: Sublime Seas: John Akomfrah and J.M.W. Turner, the U.S. premiere of a cinematic video installation by John Akomfrah; Nothing Stable under Heaven, an exhibition of contemporary artworks from SFMOMA’s collection that reflects on our charged social and political climate; Jim Campbell’s hypnotic light installation Tilted Plane; and new architecture and design projects by the Mexico City–based duo LANZA Atelier.

Sublime Seas: John Akomfrah and J.M.W. Turner

March 3–September 16, 2018
Floor 7

This exhibition is the U.S. premiere of John Akomfrah’s Vertigo Sea (2015), a three-channel video installation comprised of poetic texts, natural history documentary and film essay. This cinematic work, which debuted in 2015 at the Venice Biennale, presents a voyage of discovery, an exploration of water and the unconscious, and poignant reflections on mortality. Vertigo Sea takes the viewer on an immersive aural and visual odyssey, encompassing the greed and cruelty of the whaling industry, the transatlantic slave trade and the current refugee crisis. Akomfrah’s intricately woven triptych positions this crisis in a longer historic perspective of race and migration.

Vertigo Sea will be paired with an unprecedented presentation of a grandly scaled oil painting by the English Romantic artist J.M.W. Turner, in SFMOMA’s media arts special exhibition gallery. Turner’s tumultuous painting The Deluge, first exhibited in 1805, was specifically selected by Akomfrah and will be on loan from Tate, London. The Deluge depicts the terror of the Biblical flood in a strongly emotional manner, evoking the idea of “sublime” art that is both disturbing and awe-inspiring.

Akomfrah’s Vertigo Sea, shot in the Faroe Islands, the island of Skye and the Northern regions of Norway, alludes to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “sublime seas” through its painterly compositions and has as its narrative spine two remarkable books: Herman Melville’s Moby Dick (1851) and Heathcote Williams’ epic poem Whale Nation (1988), a harrowing and inspiring work which charts the history, intelligence and majesty of the largest mammal on earth. Excerpts of the texts are narrated and sensitively layered with a range of visual footage to create a dense portrait that exposes the greed, horror and terror associated with the whaling industry. Placed in the context of San Francisco, Vertigo Sea also creates a conversation with the city's maritime history of the 19th- and 20th-centuries and its position as a port for migrants from the Pacific — signifying the start and end of epic journeys in the past and the present.

The title, Vertigo Sea, evokes a sense of dislocation that echoes through the narrative as it shifts from archival to new footage, slipping seamlessly between past and present, real and imagined, and depicting life above and below the waves as being simultaneous yet disconnected. The sea itself is positioned as a source of dichotomy: on the one hand, a rich source of life, movement and stunning visual beauty; on the other, a site for mass murder, political instability and unaccountability.

The HD-video installation with surround sound has a total running time of 48 minutes.

About the Artist

Born in Accra, Ghana, John Akomfrah lives and works in London. A founding member of the influential Black Audio Film Collective in the 1980s alongside longtime collaborators David Lawson and Lina Gopaul, he is an artist and filmmaker whose works are characterized by investigations into personal and collective histories, memories and literary references. His works are often constructed from a combination of original footage and archival material, and driven by an urge to give voice to the experience of the African diaspora in Europe and the U.S.

Akomfrah is the winner of the 2017 Artes Mundi Award, the largest art prize in the U.K. and one of the most significant in the world.

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