To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery presents the seminal work Looking For Langston (1989/2017) by Isaac Julien – one of Britain’s most influential and critically acclaimed artists working today.
The solo exhibition Isaac Julien: Looking for Langston will feature newly-conceived, large-scale and silver gelatin photographic works and Julien’s award-winning film. The film’s narrative focuses on the life of poet Langston Hughes and his relationship to fellow Harlem Renaissance artists. Its focus on a Black, Queer experience within the American cultural landscape retains its urgency and relevance.
Known for pioneering multi-screen installations, Julien is one of Britain’s most influential artists working today with his cinematic and photographic works combining theoretical sophistication with visual luxury and sensuality. He is to be acknowledged in Britain for his contribution to art with a knighthood in February 2018.
Looking for Langston (1989/2017) focuses on the life of poet Langston Hughes and his relationship to fellow Harlem Renaissance artists. The film earned Julien a cult following and its focus on a Black, Queer experience within the American cultural landscape retains its urgency and relevance.
The celebrated film is a lyrical study of the history of 1930s black-and-white African American photography and 1980s Queer cultures that references work by James Van der Zee, George Platt Lynes and Robert Mapplethorpe. Heralded as a landmark in the exploration of artistic expression, a hallmark of New Queer Cinema and regarded as a touchstone for African-American Studies for nearly 30 years.
The film has been shown at both MoMA NYC and Tate Britain in 2017 before coming to Sydney. Julien has recently worked to conserve and restore the film’s images from his extensive archive. The soundtrack to the film was also released for the first time on vinyl by The Vinyl Factory in August 2017 featuring blues and jazz as well as ’80’s house music and the voices of Toni Morrison and Stuart Hall.
The exhibition will also coincide with Julien’s film Young Soul Rebels (1991) showing at the Golden Age Cinema as part of the 2018 Mardi Gras Film Festival on Sunday 18 February, and a special screening of Looking for Langston in its original 16mm format at the Art Gallery of New South Wales on Wednesday 14 February. Following the screening, Isaac Julien will be in conversation with Art Gallery of New South Wales Deputy Director, Maud Page.
Isaac Julien: Looking for Langston (1989/2017)
Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, 8 Soudan Lane, Paddington
Exhibition: 23 January – 3 March 2018 (opening night: 16 February)
For more information, visit: www.mardigras.org.au for details.
Image: Isaac Julien, Hommage Noir (Looking For Langston Vintage Series) 1989/2017 (detail)