Scene from the film by Julien: Lessons of The Hour
Isaac Julien is an artist from London with a background in fine art, painting, and film. He reached notoriety with the film, Looking for Langston - a poetic representation of Langston Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance.
I attendended a brief screening of Julien’s latest project exploring the life of Frederick Douglass and his views on image, technology, photography, and race relations. After the screening there was a live interview with Julien conducted followed by a question and answer period. Below is a sketch I did of this segment.
I was most struck by Julien’s ability to represent history truthfully whilst still asserting elements of the imagination that go beyond the time and space represented. He said in reference to this that he “rather likes to manipulate time with his films.”
As an artist who draws from the past both stylistically and philosophically (to some degree a traditionalist), I really appreciated seeing an artist such as Julien adapt the medium yet stay true to it at the same time. This dichotomy was also apparent in his approach to the historical narrative as well. He successfully thrusts the history into the now and the film into the realm of fine art.