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.
Related Film Screenings
There are no upcoming film screenings currently scheduled.
These shorts are two of the earliest titles produced by the Sankofa Film and Video Collective, founded by Julien, Martina Attille, Maureen Blackwood, Nadine Marsh-Edwards, and Robert Crusz after the 1981 Workshop Declaration. This provision supported independent and racially diverse media production—and was itself the Thatcherite reaction to the riots and racial tensions represented in Sankofa’s films.
Isaac Julien is joined by Giuliana Bruno, Professor of Visual and Environmental Studies, Harvard University and author of the upcoming book Surface: Matters of Aesthetics, Materiality, and Media, for a discussion of Julien's prolific and diverse moving-image work, and its active migration from cinema screen to gallery installation in such recent works as Vagabondia (2000) and Baltimore (2003), both of which take as their subject the space of the museum; the immersive video installation Ten Thousand Waves, on view in the Museum’s atrium through February 17; and his most recent installation, the seven-screen PLAYTIME.
If you are interested in reproducing images from The Museum of Modern Art web site, please visit the Image Permissions page (www.moma.org/permissions). For additional information about using content from MoMA.org, please visit About this Site (www.moma.org/site).