Creative Mind: Isaac Julien
The creative, who splits his time between London and Santa Cruz, California, is a pioneer of environmental works
For Isaac Julien, there are no barriers between artistic disciplines. Celebrated
for his poignant films and video installations, he draws from the worlds of dance, photography, music, theater, and painting to craft his unique narratives. The creative, who splits his time between London and Santa Cruz, California, is a pioneer of environmental works, for which he masterfully blends poetic images with sound elements. A feast for the senses, the installations are composed of myriad double-sided screens that beckon the viewer to move freely throughout the space, taking in different fragments of the story to reach a climactic whole; sound is amplified throughout, heightening the experience.
“If someone was to approach me and to ask me what my work is about, I would say I am a poet”isaac julien
From April 26 through August 20, Julien’s most important creations from the 1980s to today will be on view in a solo exhibition at Tate Britain. Highlights include his film Looking for Langston (1989), about Langston Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance, and Lessons of the Hour (2019), a ten-screen film meditation on the life of social reformer Frederick Douglass. “If someone was to approach me and to ask me what my work is about, I would say I am a poet,” explains the artist in a Tate documentary. He adds that his work is a “poetic quest for a language to express experiences which are part of the everyday experience of people like myself.”
A version of this article first appeared in print in our 2023 Spring Issue under the headline “Creative Minds.” Subscribe to the magazine.