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Isaac Julien appointed Distinguished Professor of the Arts at UC Santa Cruz
Internationally acclaimed artist and filmmaker will open the Isaac Julien Lab for UC Santa Cruz graduate students © Graeme Robertson.



SANTA CRUZ, CA.- Isaac Julien, renowned artist notable for his complex, politically charged, and visually arresting installations, has accepted the position of distinguished professor of the arts at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He joins the UC Santa Cruz arts faculty along with his partner and collaborator, acclaimed curator and art critic, Mark Nash, who was recently appointed professor of the arts at the university.

Julien and Nash are developing the Isaac Julien Lab at the UC Santa Cruz campus which will provide students with a way to engage in a range of artistic disciplines, drawing upon moving and still images to create visual and sonic languages for production, exhibition and installation. It is being designed as a mirror for Julien’s London studio and students enrolled in the program will also spend an academic quarter in London.

“The Arts Division, along with the entire campus community, enthusiastically welcome Isaac and Mark and look forward to collaborating with them,” said Interim Dean of the Arts Division, Edward C. Warburton, adding that “these hires reinforce our belief that the arts have a role in innovating new models of research, scholarship and production."

Students in the program will assist Julien in project research, producing moving image and photographic works in both locations (Santa Cruz and London) and consider archive sampling, remixing and reproduction as integral parts of the creative process.

“We have an affinity for UC Santa Cruz,” says Julien, “that began in the 1990s when Mark and I were here making the film Frantz Fanon: Black Skin, White Mask in partnership with colleagues in the History of Consciousness program. We have always carried that spirit in our work so when we were approached to be on faculty, it felt like a homecoming of sorts. In fact, we have long admired the scholarship at UC Santa Cruz and were inspired by the vision of a laboratory model for artistic research and production which UC Santa Cruz is pioneering.”

Julien’s Playtime at Los Angeles County Museum of Art
On May 5 through August 11, 2019, Julien’s film Playtime will be on view at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and stars actors Maggie Cheung, James Franco, Colin Salmon, auctioneer Simon de Pury, and others in a captivating critique of the influence of capital on the art market. Playtime has been exhibited at Fort Mason, San Francisco (2017), Platform-L Contemporary Arts Center, Seoul (2017); and Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City (2016); as well as other venues around the world.

On Friday, May 17 and Saturday, May 18, 2019, LACMA and UC Santa Cruz are hosting a symposium featuring the screening of Julien’s award-winning Looking for Langston, which shot him into prominence in the film and art worlds. The film is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. A discussion with Isaac Julien and B. Ruby Rich, UC Santa Cruz professor of social documentation and film, will follow the screening.

There also will be a full day of talks and panels, bringing art and film scholars, theorists and artists into conversation about Julien’s work, its influences, and how its impact is felt in contemporary art, film and theory. Screenings will include Kapital, Western Union Small Boats, and Julien’s new film about Frederick Douglass, Lessons of the Hour.

Isaac Julien (United Kingdom, b. 1960) was born and raised in London’s East End to parents from the Caribbean island-nation of St. Lucia. He co-founded Sankofa Film and Video Collective, a group committed to liberating the aesthetics of black independent film, in 1983, and received his Bachelor of Arts in Film from London’s Central Saint Martins School of Art in 1984. In 1989 he completed a postdoctoral degree at Les Entrepreneurs de l’Audiovisuel Européen in Brussels and premiered his award-winning art documentary Looking for Langston (1989), a poetic exploration of Langston Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance, which gained him a cult following and international recognition as a pioneer in queer black cinema. His subsequent films, including Young Soul Rebels (1991), Frantz Fanon: Black Skin, White Mask (1996), BaadAsssss Cinema (2002), and Derek (2008) integrate aspects of dance, theater, history, painting, and sculpture while also invoking Hollywood and Blaxploitation films.

Julien has explored wider globalized perspectives in moving-image installations with works such as Stones Against Diamonds (2015), produced in the remote glacial caves of the Icelandic tundra, and Ten Thousand Waves (2010), shot in Shanghai with an entirely Chinese cast and crew. Ten Thousand Waves was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 2013, accompanied by Riot, a publication surveying Julien’s life and work. Julien featured prominently at the 56th and 57th Venice Biennales, directing a major durational performance, Das Kapital Oratorio, in 2015, and participating in the inaugural Diaspora Pavilion in 2017.

Julien’s recent work Lessons of the Hour—Frederick Douglass premiered at the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester and at Metro Pictures in New York, and will be at the Yale Center for British Art beginning in October, 2019.

Julien’s work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Kramlich Collection, San Francisco; Tate, London; Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris; and Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Cape Town. He has held multiple academic positions, including Chair of Global Art at University of the Arts London (2014–16) and Professor of Media Art at Staatliche Hochschule für Gestaltung Karlsruhe, Germany (2008–16). Among his numerous honors, Julien was awarded the title Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2017, and named Royal Academician in 2018.










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