Three Reasons to Appreciate Isaac Julien’s Moving Pictures

<em>Isaac Julien: Fant'me Afrique</em>

Since graduating from St. Martin’s School of Art in 1984, British painter and viodeographer Isaac Julien has taught and exhibited at schools, museums, and galleries throughout the world. The critically lauded-and multi-award-winning-artist’s most recent film installation, Fant’me Afrique, provides a visually rich, artistically imaginative look at West Africa’s bustling Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso-a city known as much for its food and textiles as it for its cultural traditions. In conjunction with the exhibit’s opening at UCSB’s University Art Museum, Julien will lead a free lecture on his work in the McCune Conference Room from 4-5 p.m. on Thursday, February 28. Visit uam.ucsb.edu for details.

1) East Meets West: Julien’s Fant’me Afrique splices together images of wealth, poverty, urbanism, and country life to create a multifaceted look at West Africa. But what stands out most here is the artist’s use of historical film footage, which gets interspersed throughout the installation. Snippets of Hollywood flicks, European docs, and current African movies mix with Julien’s own film to create a cinematic tapestry, as well as a strong statement about globalization and cultural boundary-crossing.

2) Dancing in the Streets: While Julien’s footage is taken from the very real world of Ouagadougou, the story he tells is, at times, downright otherworldly. As dancers Stephen Galloway and Vanessa Myrie twist and turn through the city’s multiple landscapes, appearing and disappearing like phantom ghosts, the duo weave an intricate story about the intersection of local and global cultures.

3) Looking to the Future: Julien is currently in the process of finishing a new biopic, as well as an exhibition on the acclaimed English director, artist, and writer Derek Jarman, with the help of Academy Award-winning actress Tilda Swinton. While details about the project (slated to open at the Serpentine Gallery in London relatively soon) are scarce, we have no doubt Julien will be none-too-tight-lipped about the exhibit during his hour-long lecture this evening.

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