Isaac Julien is a British artist whose work draws from and comments on a range of artistic disciplines and practices (film, dance, photography, music, theatre, painting and sculpture) and uniting them in dramatic audiovisual film installations, photographic works and documentary films. Born in London in 1960, where he currently lives and works, Julien studied at St Martins’ School of Art. Julien was a founder member of the Sankofa Film and Video Collective formed to expose the racialised unconscious of British Society in the Thatcher years, and subsequently of Normal Films established to produce queer cinema in a UK context.
His 1991 film Young Soul Rebels won the Semaine de la Critique prize at the Cannes Film Festival. His 1996 film Frantz Fanon: Black Skin, White Mask, made with curator Mark Nash, won the Pratt and Whitney Canada Grand Prize. Julien has also been the recipient of the McDermott Award from MIT and The Golden Gate Persistence of Vision Award from the San Francisco Film Festival. Julien was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2001 for his works The Long Road to Mazatlán (1999) and Vagabondia (2000), and has received wide acclaim for works including Western Union (Small Boats) (2007), Fantôme Afrique (2005), True North (2004), Baltimore (2003), Paradise Omeros (2002) and Territories (1984), (the latter recently included in ‘Une Histoire, a group exhibition at the Centre Pompidou).
In 2008 Julien collaborated with Tilda Swinton on a biopic Derek about Derek Jarman, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival the same year. Julien has appeared in Documenta11 (2002), the 7th Gwangju Biennale in South Korea (2008) and the Paris Triennale (2012). In recent years, Julien has had solo exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago (2013), Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego (2012), Nasjonalmuseet, Oslo (2012), Bass Museum, Miami, Florida (2010), Museum Brandhorst, Munich (2009), Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea - Museu do Chiado, Lisbon, Portugal (2008) Kestnergesellschaft, Hanover (2006), Centre Pompidou, Paris (2005), and MoCA, North Miami (2005). His 2010 installation Ten Thousand Waves has been on display in over fifteen international cities so far, including Shanghai, Sydney (2010 Biennale), Madrid, Helsinki, São Paolo, Gwangju, Moscow, Miami and London. In winter 2013/14, Ten Thousand Waves was on view at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, projected onto nine double-sided screens in a dynamic arrangement specially conceived for The Donald B. and Catherine C. Marron Atrium. A survey of his career to date Riot was published by the Museum of Modern Art in 2013. His latest work PLAYTIME, premiered as a single-screen work at Metro Pictures, New York in November 2013 and as a seven-screen work at Victoria Miro Gallery, London in January 2014. Most recently in 2015 Julien has had solo exhibitions at De Pont Museum, Tilburg and Galería Helga de Alvear, Madrid.
Julien is represented in museum and private collections throughout the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Tate, the UK Government Art Collection, Centre Pompidou, the Guggenheim Museum, the Hirshhorn Museum and the Brandhorst Museum. Julien has held several professorial, teaching and research positions in the field of visual arts and cultural theory over the course of his career. Current positions include Chair of Global Art at University of Arts, London and Professor of Media Art at Staatliche Hoscschule fur Gestaltung, Karlsruhe.