Virtual studio visit with Isaac Julien, 26 June 2020

30 June 2020

Held on Zoom on 26 June, the CAS hosted a live talk with Isaac Julien at his current studio in Santa Cruz, California.

Julien generously allowed extracts from Lessons of the Hour, 2019 to be shown, one of his most recent projects which focuses on the visionary African American writer, abolitionist and freed slave Frederick Douglass. Not yet exhibited in the UK, it is a contemplative journey through Douglass’ world and its relationship to contemporaneity. Extracts from Who Killed Colin Roach, 1983 and Baltimore, 2003 were also shown.

Filmmaker and installation artist, Isaac Julien CBE RA, was born in 1960 in London. His multi-screen film installations and photographs incorporate different artistic disciplines to create a poetic and unique visual language. His 1989 documentary-drama exploring author Langston Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance titled Looking for Langston garnered Julien a cult following while his 1991 debut feature Young Soul Rebels won the Semaine de la Critique prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

In 2005 the Contemporary Art Society acquired After Mazatlán, 1999-2000 for Graves Gallery in Sheffield, a suite of 8 black and white photogravures that draw on the mythologies of the American West, in particular the loaded iconographies of the Cowboy.

Recent international solo and group exhibitions include: Isaac Julien: Western Union: Small Boats, Neuberger Museum, New York (2020); Masculinities: Liberation through Photography, Barbican Art Gallery, London, travelling to Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin (2020); Baltimore at the Baltimore Museum of Art (2019-2020); Lina Bo Bardi – A Marvellous Entanglement, Victoria Miro Gallery, London (2019); Isaac Julien: Frederick Douglass: Lessons of the Hour, SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah (2019); Looking for Langston at Tate Britain (2019); PLAYTIME at LACMA (2019); Black Refractions: Highlights from the Studio Museum in Harlem at the Gibbes Museum (2019). Also in 2019, Julien’s PLAYTIME was featured as part of Ruby City’s inaugural programme. Upcoming exhibitions include Lina Bo Bardi – A Marvellous Entanglement, at Galería Helga de Alvear, Madrid, MAXXI, Rome, and WIELS, Brussels; and Frederick Douglass: Lessons of the Hour at the McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, San Francisco.

Since 2019, Isaac Julien is partly based in the USA, where he conducts a graduate programme as Distinguished Professor of the Arts and leads the Isaac Julien Lab at University of California, Santa Cruz, in association with professor and curator Mark Nash.

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