Isaac Julien

Isaac Julien (born UK, 1960) currently lives and works in London, UK.

He received a BA from Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design, University of Arts London (London, UK) in 1984.

Julien received the Frameline Lifetime Achievement Award (San Francisco, USA) in 2002 and was nominated for the Turner Prize (London, UK) in 2001. His film Young Soul Rebels (1991) was awarded the SACD Prize, La Semaine de la Critique at the Cannes Film Festival (Cannes, France) in 1991.

He has been included in the 17th Biennale of Sydney (Sydney, Australia) in 2010, The Second Guangzhou Triennial (Guangzhou, China) in 2005, and DAK’ART 2004, 6th Biennal of Contemporary Art (Dakar, Senegal) in 2004.

Julien has had numerous solo exhibitions, including at the Centre Pompidou (Paris, France) in 2005, the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (Rotterdam, the Netherlands) in 2004, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (Chicago, USA) in 2000.

He has been included in group exhibitions globally, including at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York, USA) in 2009, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution (Washington, USA) in 2008, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (Sydney, Australia) in 2007.

His work is included in public and private collections around the world, including the collections of The Museum of Modern Art (New York, USA), the Centre Pompidou (Paris, France), and the Tate (London, UK).

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“Mazu is a 16th century deity from the Fujian Province in South China, who is called upon by fishermen and sailors looking for peace and protection. In this short visual meditation, I have reworked the Mazu Myth, liberating her from this original context. Here, alone in these distilled film frames, we focus on the famous Chinese screen idol Maggie Cheung’s gestural performance, as she makes her haunting plea for peace and reconciliation.

‘Peace’ is often understood as an antonym of ‘war’ but it also has a broader meaning as freedom from disturbance. This is the peace longed for by the different generations of fishermen, cockle pickers, worldly travelers and migrants depicted in my film installations, such as Ten Thousand Waves, where Maggie Cheung first played the role of Mazu. People all over the word risk their lives daily in treacherous journeys, trying to reach difficult destinations, escaping famine and war, or improving their living conditions: risking everything to achieve a better life. I see this piece as Mazu serenading them all for peace. It is for those weary souls, who hopefully one day will receive the peace they deserve.”