Isaac Julien: What Freedom Is To Me (Paperback)

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Isaac Julien: What Freedom Is To Me (Paperback)

Isaac Julien: What Freedom Is To Me (Paperback)

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Recent international solo and group exhibitions include Isaac Julien: PLAYTIME, PalaisPopulaire, Germany; Isaac Julien: Lina Bo Bardi – A Marvellous Entanglement, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, USA (2023); Isaac Julien: Once Again… (Statues Never Die), Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia; Isaac Julien: Lessons of the Hour - Frederick Douglas, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, USA; Isaac Julien, Goslar Kaiserring, Mönchehaus Museum, Goslar, Germany; Details of Regeneration: Black Cinema 1898 – 1971, Academy Museum, Los Angeles, CA, USA (2022). Although the legacies of slavery are still felt today, financially and socially, something about looking back to that time to a Black viewer can have a sense of ‘here we go again’. The beauty of the British countryside which falsifies comfort throughout, only to then whiplash to the dangling of strange fruit, cotton, and imagery of traumatic histories of slavery. His characters repeatedly wrestle with the looting and plunder, the rewriting and erasure, of non-Western and non-male histories under the rubric of the institution. This is almost as tendentious as the stylised sequences in Julien’s 2007 Western Union: Small Boats, where dancers were actually choreographed to play immigrants drowning during fatal Mediterranean crossings.

One solitary figure stands at the edge of the sea, the sole survivor of the Chinese cockle pickers who lost their lives there in 2004. Barnes (played by Danny Huston), a collector and exhibitor of African material culture who founded the Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, in 1922. His work, which spans films and video installations, has been displayed at New York’s Museum of Modern Art as well as the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and in 2022, he was knighted for his work in diversity and the arts.A lot of the works which I’ve been involved in making over the years are really about trying to create this almost haptic relationship to the image or a feeling,” Julien, 63, tells me in a sunlit room a few floors up, which overlooks the Thames. What Freedom Is To Me (the title comes from a Nina Simone quotation) gets to grips with Julien’s vast back catalogue right up to 2002’s Once Again… (Statues Never Die), which investigates the relationship between American collector of African artefacts Dr.

Outside the main part of the show are several of Julien’s earliest pieces, made with the Black British film collective Sankofa, which reflect the development of Julien’s language from documentary into experimental montage. The five-channel film is mirrored in surrounding mylar walls, problematizing the viewer’s gaze, and this installation is punctuated with sculptures by Richmond Barthé and Matthew Angelo Harrison, each embedded in a thick, transparent casing that gives the feeling of submerged permanence, a drowning. Once Again…(Statues Never Die) also uses footage from Julien’s seminal work Looking for Langston (1989), which is also on display in the show.These scenes are interspersed with images of historical locomotives traversing the landscape and police surveillance footage of the 2015 Baltimore protests following the police murder of Freddie Gray. The first survey exhibition (23 September 2023–14 January 2024) in Germany dedicated to work of Isaac Julien reveals the breadth of a groundbreaking oeuvre from its emergence in the 1980s to the present. in London) reveals the breadth of a groundbreaking oeuvre from its emergence in the 1980s to the present. Within his sculptural, expanded cinema, films like the ten-channel Lessons of the Hour (2019), included here, are impossible to view with a single field of vision.

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