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Isaac Julien Exhibition at Irish Museum of Modern Art
Isaac Julien, Paradise Omeros, 2002, production still. Courtesy of the artist and Victoria Miro Gallery, London.

DUBLIN, IRELAND.-The first exhibition in Ireland by the renowned British artist and filmmaker Isaac Julien opens to the public at the Irish Museum of Modern Art on Wednesday 21 September 2005. Isaac Julien comprises three film works Paradise Omeros, 2002, Vagabondia, 2000, and The Long Road to Mazatlán, 1999. Each work will be shown for one month and the exhibition space will be re-configured to a two-screen or three-screen format creating a specific environment for each work. Isaac Julien effortlessly breaks 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 powerful visual narrative.

The first film in this exhibition Paradise Omeros was much celebrated at Documenta 11 in Kassel, Germany, in 2002. The installation delves into the fantasies and feelings of "creoleness" - the mixed language, the hybrid mental states and the territorial transpositions that arise when one lives in multiple cultures. Using the recurrent imagery of the sea, the film sweeps the viewer into a poetic meditation on the ebb and flow of self and stranger, love and hate, war and peace, xenophobe and xenophile. Paradise Omeros is set in London in the 60s and on the Caribbean island of St Lucia today and is loosely based on some of Nobel Prize winning poet Derek Walcott’s poems from Omeros. Derek Walcott and the musician and composer Paul Gladstone Reid collaborated with Julien on the text and score for the film. Paradise Omeros is co-scripted by Isaac Julien and Grischa Duncker.

Vagabondia was filmed in Sir John Soane’s Museum in London. Here a conservator, played by Cleo Sylvestre, reveals to the viewer the hidden histories and objects within the museum's cornucopia of curios, collected by Soane during his Grand Tour. Into this environment Julien places a Vagabond who brings the spirit of the Grand Tour back to life through his movements which where choreographed by the acclaimed dancer and choreographer Javier de Frutos.

The Long Road to Mazatlán was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2001. This work is another collaboration with Javier de Frutos and was commissioned by ArtPace and Grand Arts Kansas City. This work draws on the mythologies of the frontier culture of the American west and in particular the loaded iconographies of the Cowboy and is imbued with a homoerotic quality redolent of Andy Warhol’s Lonesome Cowboys. It also references the work of Martin Scorsese and David Hockney and continues, as with Julien’s earlier film work, to subvert preconceptions of race and sexuality.

Biographical Details - Isaac Julien was born in 1960 in London, where he currently lives and works. Julien graduated from St Martin’s School of Art, London, where he studied painting and fine art film. Julien’s recent films include Fantôme Afrique, 2005; True North, 2004; Baltimore, 2003, which won the Grand Jury Prize at the Kunst Film Biennale in Cologne; Paradise Omeros, 2002; Vagabondia, 2000; The Long Road to Mazatlán, 1999, which was nominated for the 2001 Turner Prize. Earlier films include Frantz Fanon: Black Skin, White Mask, 1996; the Cannes prize-winning Young Soul Rebels, 1991, and Looking for Langston, 1989. Julien was the recipient of the prestigious MIT Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts, 2001. Solo exhibitions have included GL Strand Kunstoreningen, Denmark; Musee d’art contemporain de Montreal, Canada; House of World Cultures, Berlin; Art Pace, San Antonio, Texas, and Bohen Foundation, New York. The Film Art of Isaac Julien, curated by Amada Cruz at Bard Curatorial College, was shown at the Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney and toured to the Bildmuseet Umeå, Henie Onstad Museum, Norway, and Yerba Buena Center, San Francisco.

Exhibitions in 2005 include Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, MAK Center, Los Angeles, and Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami. Isaac Julien is currently visiting Mellon Professor at University of Pittsburgh and is a Trustee of the Serpentine Gallery and InIVA in London and of the Art Pace Foundation in San Antonio in Texas. The exhibition is curated by Seán Kissane, Curator: Exhibitions, IMMA. A fully-illustrated catalogue, with texts by scholars Giuliana Bruno and José Esteban Muñoz, Enrique Juncosa, Director, IMMA, Seán Kissane, and an interview with Derek Walcott by Marie-Hélène Laforest, accompanies the exhibition (price €29.00).

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