Isaac Julien featured in Frieze

Isaac Julien is featured in Frieze Magazine, an interview by Deborah Willis and Isaac Julien in Interviews Opionion | 22 March 2023

Ahead of his major exhibition at Tate Britain, the artist considers how his films will exist in the future

Deborah Willis When I first met you, in the late 1980s, you were working on the film Looking for Langston (1989), in which you explored the story of the African American poet Langston Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and ’30s. Can you talk about what inspired you to investigate memory in your practice – to see what was missing or erased or undiscovered in the archives and to develop new narratives around it?

Isaac Julien My investigation into the ways in which there were so many absences and erasures in archives led me to view them as a springboard for reinvention. When I started to look at works from the 1920s and ’30s, it was a revelation to discover that I had never been taught about the Harlem Renaissance as a Black arts movement in any of my art history classes.”

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ABOUT Isaac Julien

Sir Isaac Julien, CBE RA is a critically acclaimed British artist and filmmaker. In 2018, Julien joined the faculty at the University of California Santa Cruz where he is a distinguished professor of the arts and leads the Isaac Julien Lab together with Arts Professor Mark Nash. Current and recent international solo exhibitions include: Isaac Julien: Lina Bo Bardi — A Marvellous Entanglement, CentroCentro (Panorama Madrid), Madrid, Spain, on view until 29 August 2021; Isaac Julien: Lessons of the Hour, McAvoy Foundation for the Arts, San Francisco (2020–2021); Isaac Julien: Lina Bo Bardi — A Marvellous Entanglement, MAXXI, Rome (2020–2021); Isaac Julien: Western Union: Small Boats, Neuberger Museum, New York (2020); Isaac Julien: Frederick Douglass: Lessons of the Hour, SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah (2019); Looking for Langston at Tate Britain (2019); and Playtime at LACMA (2019). Julien has previously exhibited at venues including Museum of Modern Art, New York (2013), Art Institute of Chicago (2013), Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego (2012), and Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2005). Julien is the recipient of The Royal Academy of Arts Charles Wollaston Award 2017 and was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2017.

Isaac Julien was born in 1960, London, UK
He lives and works in London, UK and Santa Cruz, CA