Renowned British artist and filmmaker Isaac Julien takes center stage at Tate Britain in the first major exhibition devoted to his influential work in the United Kingdom. Spanning four decades, from the 1980s to the present day, this exhibition presents Isaac Julien‘s groundbreaking films and video installations. With a selection of key works, ranging from his groundbreaking early films to his internationally acclaimed kaleidoscopic multi-screen and sculptural installations, this retrospective highlights the artist’s remarkable career.
Isaac Julien‘s work explores the intersections between various artistic disciplines such as film, dance, photography, music, theater, painting and sculpture. The exhibition opens with his first forays into the field of moving images as part of the Sankofa Film and Video Collective.
This collective, made up of London-based artists from the African, Asian and Caribbean diaspora, was instrumental in the creation of an independent black cinema in the UK. Works on view include Julien’s pioneering film “Who Killed Colin Roach?” (1983), as well as other films and installations addressing themes of black identity, queer desire, and migratory experiences.
A central element of Julien’s work is the use of dance, which explores the movements of people across time, continents and spaces. Multi-screen film installations such as “Western Union: Small Boats” (2007) and “Lina Bo Bardi – A Marvellous Entanglement” (2019) feature choreography that reflects the history of African migration and its associated trauma. A filmed performance by Balé Folclórico da Bahia at the Museum of Modern Art in Bahia, Brazil, pays tribute to modernist architect and designer Lina Bo Bardi.
The exhibition also features Julien’s most recent works, including “Once Again… (Statues Never Die)” (2022), which explores the relationship between American collector Albert C. Barnes and philosopher Alain Locke, often considered the father of the Harlem Renaissance. The film looks at their critical dialogue and its impact on their efforts on behalf of African American causes. The critically acclaimed film installation, “Lessons of the Hour” (2019), is also featured, focusing on the life and times of freedom fighter Frederick Douglass and documenting Julian’s commitment to cultural and political activism.
This comprehensive exhibition offers a retrospective journey through Isaac Julien‘s career, highlighting his ongoing exploration of the image through various art forms and his dedication to representing Black identity, sexuality, and history. Through his evocative films and immersive installations, Isaac Julien invites viewers to engage with pressing social and cultural issues, encouraging dialogue and reflection. Don’t miss this extraordinary opportunity to experience the artistic genius of Isaac Julien at Tate Britain.