On the occasion of OVR:Pioneers, Nara Roesler proposes a selection of photographs by the artist that together reveal the trajectory of Julien's engagement with the medium.
British filmmaker and visual artist Isaac Julien is a pioneer in multiple-screen film installations. Having started his career as part of the Sankofa Film and Video Collective, Julien went on to produce works that have become classics such as Looking for Langston (1989) and Young Soul Rebels (1991), which won the Semaine de la Critique prize at the 1991 Cannes Film Festival. In the mid-1990s Julien started investigating new modes of cinematic practice and created his first multiple-screen installations, including the Turner Prize-nominated, two-screen installation Vagabondia (2000). He has been able to establish an immersive relationship between the audience and the film screen, one where the spectator is able to wander past the various screens thereby creating new mobile configurations of film spectatorship.
Since Julien started investigating those new modes of filmmaking, he has also developed a parallel body of photographic work. Instead of using film stills from his shoots, Julien creates specific mise-en-scenes on the film set, extensively reworking the images digitally.
The compreehensive presentation includes works as early as Three, from 1999, until the most recent Lina Bo Bardi – A Marvellous Entanglement (2019), as well as iconic series such as Ten Thousand Waves (2010) and Playtime (2013). The images presented are interwoven by their common thematic engagement with the representation of black subjectivity, migration, mythology, cinema, and architecture, representations in which female figures often appear as poetic emblems who navigate through the complexities of such matters. In each of the works presented, the audience is encouraged to listen to and learn from the female protagonists.The selection thus not only celebrates Julien’s pioneering methods of creating and presenting imagery but also accentuates his perceptive, incisive and thought-provoking thematics.