Isaac Julien

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Isaac Julien
Isaac Julien.jpg
Born (1960-02-21) 21 February 1960 (age 55)
London, England
Occupation Installation artist and filmmaker

Isaac Julien (born 21 February 1960)[1] is an installation artist and filmmaker.[2]


Julien was born in the East End of London, one of the five children of his parents, who had migrated to Britain from St Lucia.[1] He graduated from Saint Martin's School of Art in 1985, where he studied painting and fine art film. He co-founded Sankofa Film and Video Collective in 1983,[1] and was a founding member of Normal Films in 1991.

Julien came to prominence in the film world with his 1989 drama-documentary Looking for Langston, gaining a cult following with this poetic exploration of Langston Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance. This following was expanded in 1991 when his film Young Soul Rebels won the Semaine de la Critique prize for best film at the Cannes Film Festival.

One of the objectives of Julien's work is to break down the barriers that exist between different artistic disciplines, drawing from and commenting on film, dance, photography, music, theatre, painting and sculpture, and uniting these to construct a powerfully visual narrative. Thematically, much of his work directly relates to experiences of black and gay identity (he is himself gay),[2] including issues of class, sexuality, and artistic and cultural history. He was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2001, and in 2003 he won the Grand Jury Prize at the Kunst filmBiennale in Cologne for his single screen version of Baltimore. Julien is also a documentary filmmaker - his work in this genre includes BaadAsssss Cinema, a film on the history and influence of blaxploitation cinema.

Julien lives and works in London. He was visiting lecturer at Harvard University's Schools of Afro-American and Visual Environmental Studies, and is currently a visiting professor at the Whitney Museum of American Arts. He was also a research fellow at Goldsmiths College, University of London, and in September 2009 he became a professor at the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design. Julien is a patron of the Live Art Development Agency.[3]

Selected installation pieces[edit]

  • PLAYTIME (2013)
  • Te Tonga Tuturu/True South (Apparatus) (2009)
  • Dungeness (2008)
  • WESTERN UNION: Small Boats (2007)
  • Fantôme Créole (2005)
  • Fantôme Afrique (2005)
  • True North (2004)
  • Radioactive (2004)
  • Baltimore (2003)
  • Lost Boundaries (2003)
  • Paradise Omeros (2002)
  • Vagabondia (2000)


  • Who Killed Colin Roach? (1983)
  • Territories (1984)
  • The Passion of Remembrance (1986)
  • This is Not an AIDS Advertisement (1987)
  • Looking for Langston (1989)
  • Young Soul Rebels (1991)
  • Black and White in Colour (1992)
  • The Attendant (1992)
  • Darker Side of Black (1993)
  • The Question of Equality (senior producer) (1994)
  • Frantz Fanon: Black Skin, White Mask (1996)
  • Three (1999)
  • The Long Road to Mazatlan (1999)
  • Paradise Omeros (2002)
  • BaadAsssss Cinema (2002)
  • Baltimore (2003)
  • Derek (2008)


Further reading[edit]

  • Craine, D. (24 September 2007). "A marriage of jigs and reels". Dance (in publisher=The Times) (London). Retrieved 3 October 2007. 

Cariello, M. (2008), “Movement in Between: The Difference this Time”. Anglistica Aion: An Interdisciplinary Journal, ISSN: 2035-8504 (

External links[edit]