1 October 2022—8 January 2023

John Akomfrah – Mimesis: African Soldier

Mimesis: African Soldier by John Akomfrah uncovers the undiscussed story of the Commonwealth soldiers who volunteered to fight in World War I: the war of their colonial masters.

Akomfrah blends archive imagery of African and Asian soldiers at work, digging trenches and fetching and carrying with original, newly filmed footage imagining the men as they leave their partners behind.

With a soundtrack that mixes African and Indian song with new compositions, John Akomfrah paints a vivid cinematic portrait of a forgotten, or overlooked history.

“The most important thing for me, the takeaway, is that African soldiers fought in this war, that they played a variety of roles in the war as foot soldiers, as carriers. Every facet, every avenue, every job in the war, if you look long enough, you will see someone of either Asian or African origin/heritage in that role.” – John Akomfrah

Mimesis: African Soldier was commissioned by 14-18 NOW and shown at the Imperial War Museum to mark the centenary of World War I. Bristol Museum & Art Gallery jointly acquired the film in partnership with Glasgow Museums in 2019.