Isaac Julien — Chapter 3: Acting and Music

In the final story of our series before the opening of Once Again… (Statues Never Die), we highlight the exceptional blend of acting and musical talent involved in Isaac Julien’s project, which further elevates its significance.

André Holland, recognized for his roles in “Moonlight” and “Passing,” portrays Alain Locke, bringing his known depth and sensitivity to the character. Danny Huston, from “Succession” and “Marlowe,” embodies Dr. Albert Barnes and Devon Terrell, who played young Barack Obama in “Barry,” represents sculptor Richmond Barthé, highlighting the artistic prowess of the Harlem Renaissance era. Sharlene Whyte, known for “Small Axe” and “Lessons of the Hour,” takes on the role of the curator, adding yet another dimension to the story.

Below, see some of the actors featured in photography works and stills from the film:

A unique aspect of this project is the music — specially composed for the film — which adds an auditory layer to the visual narrative. Soulful and resonant, the compositions evoke the cultural wealth of the Harlem Renaissance through Alice Smith’s impressive voice. The title of the film, Once Again… (Statues Never Die), is directly influenced by Alice Smith’s song ‘Once Again,’ highlighting the connection and influence of music on the film’s thematic and narrative elements.

Below, see Alice Smith’s Spotify profile linked — featuring her discography.

This combination of talented actors and musicians, along with the specially composed music, makes Once Again… (Statues Never Die) more than a mere exploration of historical themes. It is a contemporary artistic experience that seamlessly integrates multiple artistic disciplines. Isaac Julien’s work is a remarkable fusion of music, film, photography, sculpture, and the art of curating. Each discipline contributes its unique essence, making the film a multi-sensory narrative, proving the power of interdisciplinary art.

Concluding our series of three focus stories, each offering a different perspective on Isaac Julien’s Once Again… (Statues Never Die), we aim to highlight the film’s innovative approach to storytelling. We look forward to welcoming you at the opening on Saturday, March 9th, 2024. For a deeper dive into the context and nuances of the exhibition, feel free to revisit our previous stories available on our news page.

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.