Isaac Julien

Isaac Julien is one of the most important artists working in the area of moving image for over 25 years. His work incorporates different artistic disciplines, drawing from and commenting on film, dance, photography, music, theatre, painting and sculpture, and uniting them to create a unique poetic visual language in audio visual film installations.

Julien was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2001 for his films The Long Road to Mazatlán (1999) and Vagabondia (2000). In the same year, he received the Eugene McDermott Award from MIT in Massachusetts, USA. He received the Grand Jury Award at the KunstFilmBiennale in Cologne, Germany for his work, Baltimore (2003).

Julien’s debut film, Looking for Langston (1989) won the Teddy Award at the Berlin International Film Festival. His feature film Young Soul Rebels won the Semaine de la Critique prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

In 1997 Julien received the Pratt and Whitney Canada Grand Prize at the 15th International Festival of Films on Art for Frantz Fanon: Black Skin, White Mask (1996). The film uses interviews, reconstructions and archive footage to tell the story of the life and work of the highly influential anti-colonialist writer Frantz Fanon and is used in teaching around the world.

His acclaimed 5-screen installation, WESTERN UNION: small boats (2007) depicts the journeys and stories of so-called “clandestines” who leave Libya to escape wars and famines, bearing witness to modernity’s failed hopes and dreams. The work has been shown to great acclaim at Metro Pictures, New York; Galería Helga de Alvear, Madrid; Centre for Contemporary Arts, Warsaw; The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse, Miami, USA; and opened the Museum Brandhorst in Munich in 2009. In 2008 Julien collaborated with Tilda Swinton on a biopic about Derek Jarman simply entitled Derek, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival the same year. 

Julien is represented in museum and private collections throughout the world, including Tate; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Centre Pompidou; the Guggenheim Museum; the Hirshhorn Museum; and the Brandhorst Museum

Julien was visiting lecturer at Harvard University's Schools of Afro-American and Visual Environmental Studies, and is currently a visiting professor at the Whitney Museum of American Arts. He was also a research fellow at Goldsmiths College, University of London, and in September 2009 he became a professor at the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design. Julien is a patron of the Live Art Development Agency.

He lives and works in London.