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The Crack Magazine

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Wayfinder

Director: Larry Achiampong

Stars: Perside Rodrigues, Anita Neil, Russell Tovey, Maa Afua

Commissioned by Turner Contemporary, the MK Gallery and the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, this discursive lyrical travelogue from British-Ghanaian artist Larry Achiampong charts the cross country ramblings of a young Black British woman. The Wanderer (Perside Rodrigues), cutting a striking figure in her orange cagoule framed by the overcast British skies, is making her way from North to South, setting out from the ancient paths of Hadrian’s Wall, then dropping in on a housing estate in Wolverhampton where she meets Anita Neil, Britain’s first Black female Olympian; and an East London café where she eardrops on a conversation. Split up into six segments, The North, The Midlands, The Land of Smoke, Journey Home, the Kingdom of the East and The Corner Land, it’s a freewheeling meditation on identity, patriotism, class and gentrification. Achiampong’s score ranges from rather plaintive piano arrangements to more ominous strings as The Wanderer gazes on the Turner painting ‘The Slave Ship’ in the National Gallery, musing who it was intended for. The earlier more abstract scenes are the most effective, particularly a performance from folk musician and artist Mataio Austin Dean ‘the lion-headed boy’ who sings a haunting folk ballad as The Wanderer makes her way along the Hadrian’s path. A later comic scene in in an East London café in which a white cockney Brexiter and anti-‘woke’ enthusiast (voiced by Russell Tovey) personified by an image of a gradually disappearing English fry up, converses with (presumably) a British Ghanaian woman (Maa Afua), represented by a plate of dwindling digestive biscuits, feels clumsily didactic and condescending.

David Willoughby

Follow David on Twitter @DWill_Crackfilm

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