Isaac Julien: What Freedom Is To Me is open at Tate Britain. This is the first major UK exhibition by one of today's most compelling artists and filmmakers, who is celebrated for his lyrical films and video art installations that explore themes of desire, history and culture.

The exhibition spans four decades of Julien's pioneering work, from his early experiments in moving image as part of the Sankofa Film and Video Collective, a group of Black British artists who challenged the mainstream representation of Black culture in the 1980s, to his recent large-scale, multi-screen installations that combine stunning visuals, sound and performance to create immersive experiences.

Some of the highlights of the exhibition include:

  • Looking for Langston (1989), a poetic film that pays homage to the Harlem Renaissance, a cultural movement of Black artists and writers in the 1920s, and explores Black queer identity and desire.
  • Western Union: Small Boats (2007), a three-screen film installation that depicts the perilous journeys of African migrants across the Mediterranean Sea, using choreography by Russell Maliphant to express the effects of trauma on people and places.
  • Ten Thousand Waves (2010), a nine-screen installation that interweaves stories of ancient and modern China, inspired by the Morecambe Bay tragedy of 2004, when 23 Chinese cockle-pickers drowned in the UK.
  • Lessons of the Hour (2019), a ten-screen installation that portrays the life and legacy of Frederick Douglass, an escaped slave who became a leader of the abolitionist movement in the US in the 19th century.
  • Lina Bo Bardi - A Marvellous Entanglement (2019), a nine-screen installation that celebrates the work and vision of Lina Bo Bardi, a modernist architect and designer who transformed the cultural landscape of Brazil.

Isaac Julien: What Freedom Is To Me is a rare opportunity to see a survey of one of the most influential artists working in film and video today, who challenges us to think critically and creatively about the world we live in. The exhibition runs until 20 August 2023 at Tate Britain.

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