Isaac Julien’s America

    Jessica Silverman Gallery is pleased to present “Isaac Julien’s America,” a solo show of new and historic works about the struggle for freedom and equality in a globalized world. The show is inspired by three pioneers: Frederick Douglass, an ex-slave, orator and the most photographed man of the nineteenth century; Matthew Henson, the African-American explorer who discovered the North Pole; and Angela Davis, the radical feminist and former Black Panther turned social justice activist. The photographic works in the exhibition interrogate and “creolize” the genres of portraiture, landscape, costume drama and Blaxploitation film. Together, they explore an imaginary country with expansive borders, a cluster of historical subcultures that are united by their desire for pride and self-possession, a diaspora vision that seeks to infiltrate contemporary America’s sense of itself.

    Julien’s perspective on America has its roots in long personal letters written by his grandfather, who lived in Brooklyn, NY, to his mother, who resides in London, England. Throughout his childhood, Julien’s St Lucian parents regularly discussed the prospect of re-uniting with family and pursuing a better life by migrating to North America. However, the artist didn’t end up stepping foot on American soil (or meeting a grandparent) until he was 24 years old when he attended an independent film conference in Manhattan. Since 1984, Julien has lived in the US on and off and, in 1989, set Looking for Langston in Harlem.

    Conversation between Isaac Julien & Sarah Thornton was shot on March 14, 2020, by Dana Morrison and edited by Adam Finch. Opening reception: Friday, March 13, 6-8pm
    Isaac Julien, “Lessons of the Hour” (2019) —Excerpt
    Isaac Julien, “True North” (2004) —Excerpt
    Conversation between Isaac Julien & Sarah Thornton on “Baltimore” and “True North” series
    Isaac Julien, “Baltimore” (2003) —Excerpt