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



San Francisco Museum of Modern Art


151 Third Street
San Francisco, CA 94103


Email Address:


Working hours:
Open Friday–Tuesday 10 a.m.–5 p.m. and Thursday 10 a.m.–9 p.m. Closed Wednesday.

Always check the current working hours on the website.

Sublime Seas
John Akomfrah and J.M.W. Turner
March 3–September 16, 2018

This exhibition presents the U.S. premiere of Ghana-born British artist John Akomfrah’s Vertigo Sea. Debuting at the Venice Biennale in 2015, this captivating, three-channel video installation encompasses fictional narrative, natural history documentary, and film essay, referencing Ralph Waldo Emerson, Herman Melville’s Moby Dick (1851) and Heathcote Williams’s poem Whale Nation (1988), among others. Taking the viewer on an immersive aural and visual odyssey that explores the greed and cruelty of the whaling industry, the transatlantic slave trade, and the current refugee crisis, this intricately woven cinematic triptych positions the current crisis of refugees across the globe in a longer historic perspective of race, migration, and commerce.

Vertigo Sea will be paired with The Deluge, a dramatic depiction of the Biblical flood by the celebrated painter J.M.W. Turner (British, 1775–1851), which was selected by Akomfrah for this exhibition. Sublime Seas resonates with the San Francisco Bay Area’s maritime history and its position as a port for migrants — a point of both the start and end of epic journeys.

J.M.W. Turner, The Deluge. Exhibited 1805, Tate London. Courtesy Tate London.

Image on top: John Akomfrah, Vertigo Sea (2015). Installation view. ©Smoking Dogs Films, courtesy Lisson Gallery


Telegram Channel

ArtDependence is now also available on the messaging platform Telegram. Telegram is a cloud-based mobile and desktop messaging app with a focus on security and speed.

Subscribing to the ArtDependence Channel allows you to easily stay up to date with the latest ArtDependence news.

Subscribe to the Newsletter

Image of the Day

Jeff Koons, Sacred Heart

Jeff Koons, Sacred Heart


About ArtDependence

ArtDependence Magazine is an international magazine covering all spheres of contemporary art, as well as modern and classical art.

ArtDependence features the latest art news, highlighting interviews with today’s most influential artists, galleries, curators, collectors, fair directors and individuals at the axis of the arts.

The magazine also covers series of articles and reviews on critical art events, new publications and other foremost happenings in the art world.

If you would like to submit events or editorial content to ArtDependence Magazine, please feel free to reach the magazine via the contact page.