Larry Achiampong: And I Saw A New Heaven

Copperfield Gallery, London
4 May – 17 June 2023


Working in film, sculpture, installation, sound, collage, music and performance, Larry Achiampong draws on his shared and personal heritage to explore class, gender, as well as the intersection between popular culture and the residues of colonialism. His work examines digital identities and constructions of ‘the self’, offering multiple perspectives that reveal the deeply entrenched inequalities in our society.

Achiampong’s second solo show at Copperfield gallery is a thought-provoking exploration of the intersections between video games, Christianity and HBO TV.

And I Saw A New Heaven brings real computer game play for visitors into direct dialogue with Achiampong’s collaged paintings, highlighting that minority representation is missing both in religious representation as well as in the gaming industry.


In dialogue with the chapel-like architecture of the gallery, Achiampong showcases a series of typical religious posters taken from Ghana that illustrate for example a pale-skinned, ‘chalk-white’ Jesus. Painted over by Achiampong with the Golliwog or minstrel show character, it is here reduced to an internet style avatar, pointing towards an uncomfortable recognisable icon of Britain’s and the United States’ colonial past.


Other subtle painted edits question, disrupt and obscure the original imagery and content to take ownership of these problematic colonial legacies. The custom-made wooden frames by the artist nod to the idealised story of Christ as a carpenter whilst simultaneously highlighting the realities faced by many undervalued manual workforces today. In addition, they also relate to the simplistic decorative ornaments that surrounded the humble places of worship Achiampong frequented as a child.


Adjacent to the paintings are video games such as Bayonetta 2, The Binding of Isaac, and Blasphemous, which contextualise the artworks for visitors through play. These games explore the problematic aspects of religion and faith, from the use of racialised imagery to the language of Biblical commands. In particular, The Binding of Isaac offers a humorous response to the game developers’ religious upbringing which Achiampong shares, drawing on the namesake Bible story and commenting on childhood and organised religion.


The game Bioshock Infinite highlights the processes that have led to historic whitewashing across culture. Its fictional city of Columbia, founded by a self-proclaimed prophet and transformed into a theocratic police state, highlights the institutional racism and elitism that are still present in many societies today.


And I Saw A New Heaven is a compelling and thought-provoking exhibition that challenges visitors to consider the intersections between culture, representation, power and colonial legacies in contemporary society. Achiampong’s use of painting and video games creates a playful and immersive experience that encourages critical engagement with these themes.


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Larry Achiampong and David Blandy: Wellcome Collection, London

Genetic Automata
8 June 2023 – 11 February 2024


Also on view in London is Genetic Automate, an ongoing body of video works by Larry Achiampong and David Blandy, exploring race and identity in an age of avatars, videogames, and DNA ancestry. The series investigates the origin of deeply ingrained ideas about race and the role that science has played in shaping these perceptions. The exhibition premieres _GOD_MODE_, 2023, the newest film in the series, commissioned by Wellcome Collection, Black Cultural Archives and Wellcome Connecting Science.


Larry Achiampong: Wayfinder

Baltic, Gateshead
20 May – 29 October 2023


For those planning a trip to Gateshead: until the 29 October 2023, Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art is presenting the first major solo exhibition Wayfinder by Larry Achiampong, which includes Wayfinder (2022) a commissioned feature-length film following a young girl’s intrepid journey from north to south England, and the people and places she encounters. Set in a pandemic, Achiampong’s most ambitious film to date considers class and economic exclusion, belonging and displacement, cultural heritage, and the meaning of home.


Christine Takengny (she/her)
The Roden Senior Curator, Museum Acquisitions