To mark the final weeks of MoMA’s presentation of Isaac Julien’s Ten Thousand Waves, the Department of Film presents a survey of Julien’s film works, including shorts and features from the 1980s to the present. Emerging in the neighboring club cultures of funk, disco, and soul; leftist political activism; and collectivism in British independent filmmaking, Julien made his first films as a student at Central Saint Martins. Through his films, Julien charted new representations of a self—black, gay, and British—that was largely excluded from the cultural climate of the 1980s, heralding what came to be known as New Queer Cinema. From Langston Hughes to Frantz Fanon to the 1977 Silver Jubilee, Julien combines documentary archival material with poetic fictionalizations that alternately stand in for a silenced ancestral past and act as the starting point for a viable future. While in the last 15 years Julien has primarily created video installations, these more recent works only continue the inquiry and invention of his films, as he continuously challenges received structures of artistic form and cultural meaning.
Organized by Sophie Cavoulacos, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Film.
Image: Territories. 1984. Great Britain. Directed by Isaac Julien. Courtesy Isaac Julien