In Focus: Isaac Julien

August 16, 2022–April 23, 2023

Isaac Julien, Paradise (Omeros) No. 2, 2002. Roland Archival pigmented inkjet print (triptych), 3 sheets: 27 x 27 inches each; image: 24 x 24 inches each. Edition of 12. © Isaac Julien. Gift from the artist.

In Focus: Isaac Julien presents a selection of works from the museum’s permanent collection displayed in conversation with Julien’s Paradise (Omeros) #2, a photographic multiple created for The Fabric Workshop and Museum in 2002. Gifted by the artist in honor of our institution’s 25th anniversary, this triptych of still images was pulled from Julien’s three-channel video, Paradise Omeros. Loosely based on Derek Walcott’s poem “Omeros” (1990), the film explores themes of diaspora and mixed identities between St. Lucia and London through the protagonist, Achilles.

In addition, In Focus: Isaac Julien examines the transformations of self and community through a selection of works by past artists-in-residence Nick Cave, Robert Pruitt, Betye Saar, and Alison Saar, expanding on themes such as folklore, spirituality, feminism, colonial violence, and Afrofuturism. Supporting these works is archival material from Keith Piper and Yinka Shonibare. Focusing on the voices of Black British and American artists, each work reflects a penetrating and sometimes visceral response informed by experiences living in Caribbean and African diasporic communities.

This presentation is organized in conjunction with multiple cultural partners across Philadelphia including the Barnes Foundation; Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania; BlackStar Projects, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art on the occasion of the Barnes Foundation’s centennial and commissioned film installation, Isaac Julien: Once Again … (Statues Never Die), which was on view June 19–September 4, 2022.


The Fabric Workshop and Museum
First Floor Gallery

Art in This Exhibition

Artists in This Exhibition

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About the Artist

Sir Isaac Julien, CBE RA (b. London, 1960), is a filmmaker and installation artist who currently lives and works between London and California. His multi-screen film installations and photographs incorporate different artistic disciplines to create a poetic and unique visual language. His 1989 documentary-drama exploring author Langston Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance titled Looking for Langston garnered Julien a cult following, while his 1991 debut feature Young Soul Rebels won the Semaine de la Critique prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Julien has participated in the Venice Biennale; the Gwangju Biennial, South Korea; Prospect 1, New Orleans; Performa 07, New York; and documenta 11, Kassel. His work is held in significant collections around the world. Julien has taught extensively, holding posts such as Chair of Global Art at University of the Arts London (2014–2016) and Professor of Media Art at Staatliche Hochschule für Gestaltung, Karlsruhe, Germany (2008–2016). He is the recipient of the James Robert Brudner ’83 Memorial Prize and Lectures at Yale University (2016). Most recently he received the Charles Wollaston Award (2017), for most distinguished work at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, and in 2018 he was made a Royal Academician. Julien was awarded the title Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen’s birthday honors, 2017. In 2022, he was awarded the prestigious Goslarer Kaiserring Award.

Isaac Julien is Distinguished Professor of the Arts at the University of California Santa Cruz, where he leads the Isaac Julien Lab together with critic and curator, Mark Nash. The Isaac Julien Lab was designed to mirror the Isaac Julien Studio in London and is a platform where students learn about the strategies behind the production of moving images, photographic works, exhibitions and publications. The Lab aims to create innovative pedagogical methodologies, visual and sonic languages for production, exhibition and installation while examining the various aspects that concern contemporary artists and curators working in the field of media art and moving image, in relationship to current modes of research, development, exhibition, production and scenography of moving image artworks

About the Curator

This exhibition is organized by the curatorial team of Christina Roberts, Christina Vassallo, and Francesca Zwang.