Skip to Content

The Arts Intel Report

A Cultural Compass
For the World Traveler
A Cultural Compass
For the World Traveler

Isaac Julien: What Freedom Is To Me

Isaac Julien, Diasporic Dream-Space No. 2 (Once Again … Statues Never Die), 2022.

Avenue Ceramique 250, 6221 KX Maastricht, Netherlands

Born in 1960, in London’s East End, Isaac Julien grew up in poverty, the son of immigrants from the Caribbean. In 1985, he graduated from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, where he’d focused on painting and film. A quest for social justice informed his work. Julien collaborated with Maureen Blackwood, Martina Attille, and Nadine Marsh-Edwards to form a collective that fostered Black film culture and explored topics related to the diaspora—the Sankofa Film and Video Collective. A major breakthrough came in 1989, when Julien filmed Looking for Langston, a poignant drama-documentary that explored the life of Langston Hughes and the turbulent Harlem Renaissance. Almost four decades later, Julien’s video-art installations have made him world famous. This important retrospective, which includes the 2022 work Once Again… (Statues Never Die), celebrates the artist’s career in its entirety. —Elena Clavarino

Photo: © lsaac Julien/courtesy of the artist, Galerie Ron Mandos and Victoria Miro