Book Launch and talk: Isaac Julien and The Black Archives

A conversation between Isaac Julien and The Black Archives
Official book launch of Isaac Julien’s Lessons of the Hour – Frederick Douglass

Saturday, 9 October 2021
3:00 – 5:00 PM

3:00 PM: Doors Open
3:30 PM: Welcome words by Ron Mandos
3:45 PM:Talk Isaac Julien and The Black Archives
4:45 PM: Official Book Launch
5:00 PM: End of event


We are delighted to invite you for our upcoming Talk and Book Launch on Saturday 9th of October. Between 3:00 and 5:00 PM we host an inspiring talk between Isaac Julien and The Black Archives. Founder Mitchell Esajas and Researcher Isabelle Britto will speak with Isaac Julien about archiving black history. They focus on important historic figures such as the American abolitionist Frederick Douglass, while discussing American and Dutch histories of slavery. How do we deal with these histories in our present time and what understanding did Black Lives Matter protests bring forth?

After the talk we have the honor to host the official book launch of Isaac Julien’s new catalogue Lessons of the Hour – Frederick Douglass. Isaac Julien will present the very first special edition of the catalogue to Stijn Huijts, director of the Bonnefanten Museum in Maastricht.

Read more about the event and the speakers below

RSVP for Book Launch and Talk

If you would like to attend the talk, please RSVP by clicking here or on the button above. There’s a limited number of seats available. Make sure to reserve your ticket on time as there’s a limited number of seats available in the gallery. If you’re unable to attend the talk, we will share it on our Instagram TV on Sunday 10th of October. Follow us on Instagram here.

Catalogue: Lessons of the Hour – Frederick Douglass 

Isaac Julien’s new catalogue gives an insight in the life of Frederick Douglass: the great orator, abolitionist, freedom fighter, and art collector, who was at the forefront of human rights in the 19th century. The book contains essays by Henry Louis Gates Jr., Deborah Willis, and Paul Gilroy amongst others and includes pictures of the photographic series by Isaac Julien, the film and its various installations all over the world. An interview with the artist and Douglass’ Lectures on Pictures are also published in this comprehensive catalogue.

Pre-order the book now by clicking here or on the button below.

Pre-Order Catalogue

The Black Archives

The Black Archives is a historical archive and cultural centre that consists of multiple book collections, archives and artefacts that are inheritances from black writers and scientists. The Black Archives offer literature written from subalternate perspectives that have been underexposed. Their collections hold over 10.000 books which handle themes of racism, slavery, colonialism, gender, feminism, social studies or give information about Surinam, The Dutch Antilles, South America, Africa. The intention of the collection is to make Black Literature, knowledge and information accessible.

The Speakers

Mitchell Esajas (the Netherlands, 1988) is co-founder of New Urban Collective, a network for students and young professionals from diverse backgrounds with a focus on the Surinamese, Caribbean and African diaspora. Esajas studied Business Studies and Anthropology at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. In 2016 he co-founded The Black Archives in Amsterdam, a cultural center based on a unique collection of books, documents and artefacts documenting the histories of Surinamese and Black people in the Dutch context. The Black Archives develops exhibitions and public programs based on the collections and urgent societal issues.

Isabelle Britto is a historian and assistant researcher at The Black Archives. After she obtained her bachelor’s degree in History at the University of Amsterdam, she completed a master’s program in North American Studies at Leiden University, where she focused her research on African American history and stories of Black American intellectuals such as W.E.B Du Bois. As a freelance researcher she is also currently working on a documentary about Black resistance in the Dutch context, and has recently guest-curated an exhibition about anansi stories for the CBK Zuidoost. Within The Black Archives she is part of a research team with which she conducts research into a variety of topics, from current anti-black racism in the Municipality of Amsterdam to (racist) portrayals of black people from the 19th century to the present.



ABOUT Isaac Julien

Sir Isaac Julien KBE RA (GB, 1960), a London-born filmmaker and installation artist, is celebrated for his groundbreaking approach to art, seamlessly merging film, dance, photography, music, theater, painting, and sculpture to craft compelling visual narratives through multi-screen film installations. Notably, his 1989 documentary-drama “Looking for Langston” and the Cannes Film Festival Semaine de la Critique prize-winning debut feature, “Young Soul Rebels” (1991), garnered critical acclaim on a global scale.

Julien’s international acclaim extends to prestigious solo exhibitions at prominent venues, including the Barnes Foundation, Smith College Museum of Art, and Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. His works have graced the walls of renowned institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art and the Art Institute of Chicago.

In addition to his artistic pursuits, Julien has made significant contributions to academia, holding key positions at institutions like the University of Arts London and Staatliche Hoscschule fur Gestaltung, Karlsruhe. His educational efforts were further recognized when he was awarded the James Robert Brudner ’83 Memorial Prize and delivered lectures at Yale University in 2016.

Isaac Julien’s dedication to the arts has earned him distinguished accolades, including The Royal Academy of Arts Charles Wollaston Award in 2017 and a knighthood as part of Queen Elizabeth II’s Honours List in 2022. Furthermore, he was honored with the esteemed Kaiserring Goslar Award in 2022.

In April 2023, Tate Britain hosted a comprehensive survey show, presenting Isaac Julien’s illustrious career. This exhibition featured works spanning four decades, encompassing early films and expansive multi-screen installations that delve into the themes of global movement and history. It marked the first-ever presentation of Isaac Julien’s extensive body of work in the United Kingdom. Following its showcase at Tate Britain, the exhibition traveled to K21 in Düsseldorf, with its next destination set to be Bonnefanten in Maastricht, where it will be open for viewing from March 9 onwards.