What Freedom Is To Me, by the internationally renowned artist Isaac Julien, is the biggest presentation of Julien’s work to date and his first retrospective in a Dutch museum.

Artist Portrait: Isaac Julien

Is Isaac Julien a poet or an activist? How does he translate political issues into film (installations)? And what is the 'mobile spectator'? Check it out in this video!


For the first time a large scale retrospective of the work of internationally celebrated video and film art pioneer Isaac Julien (b. 1960, London) is on show in the Netherlands. Isaac Julien is one of today’s leading artists, internationally renowned for his compelling lyrical films and video art installations.

Isaac Julien, Diasporic Dream-Space No. 2 (Once Again... Statues Never Die), 2022. Inkjet print on Canson Platine Fibre Rag, Framed 273 × 183 × 5,6 cm. © lsaac Julien. Courtesy the artist, Galerie Ron Mandos and Victoria Miro

This ambitious solo show, spanning 40 years, will trace the development of Julien’s groundbreaking film and video work from the 1980s to the present day. From his earliest work, Who Killed Colin Roach? (1983), to his latest film installation, the stunning Once Again...(Statues Never Die) (2022), Julien constantly pushes the boundaries of filmmaking as an art form.

Installation view, Once Again... (Statues Never Die), 5-screen, Barnes Foundation, 2022 Photo: Henrik Kam © Isaac Julien. Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro

What Freedom Is To Me will feature a selection of Julien’s most important work, from his trailblazing early films and captivating videos to the kaleidoscopic sculptural installations comprising several screens for which he is known today. Together, they show how Julien breaks down the barriers between artistic disciplines using film, dance, photography, music, theatre, painting and sculpture.

Isaac Julien, In the Life /lolaus (Once Again... Statues Never Die 2022. Inkjet print on Hahnemühle Photo Rag Ultrasmooth, framed: 153 × 203 x 5.6 cm. © Isaac Julien. Courtesy the artist, Galerie Ron Mandos and Victoria Miro

Isaac Julien, Pas de Deux with Roses (Looking for Langston Vintage Series), 1989/2016 Ilford classic silver gelatin fine art paper, mounted on aluminum, framed: 58.1 x 74.5 cm. © Isaac Julien. Courtesy the artist, Galerie Ron Mandos and Victoria Miro

Isaac Julien, The North Star (Lessons of the Hour), 2019. Framed photograph on gloss inkjet paper mounted on aluminum. 160 x 213.3 cm © Isaac Julien. Courtesy the artist, Galerie Ron Mandos and Victoria Miro

Filmmaker, artist and pioneer
Having graduated from St. Martin’s School of Art in London with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art Film in 1984, Julien completed his studies in 1989 at Les Entrepreneurs de l’ Audiovisuel Européen in Brussels. He made his first film installation, Who Killed Colin Roach?, in 1983. It instantly made him an artist of national importance. The film will also feature in the retrospective.

Julien’s artistic practice now spans four decades, and encompasses dozens of world-famous installations. He is also a distinguished professor at the prestigious University of California, Santa Cruz, where he and his life partner and curator Mark Nash founded the Moving Image Lab for exceptionally talented young artists, curators and researchers

Isaac Julien, The Lady of the Lake (Lessons of the Hour). Photograph, inkjet print mounted on aluminium. Courtesy of the artist and Victoria Miro


Isaac Julien is a pioneer of video and installation art. He explores the potential of the medium in order to challenge and expand traditional views of history, space and time. Julien moves between various types of social engagement in the subjects he addresses.

Isaac Julien, O que é um museu? / What is a Museum? (Lina Bo Bardi - A Marvellous Entanglement) 2019, Endura Ultra photograph facemounted 180 × 240 × 7.5 cm. © Isaac Julien. Courtesy the artist, Galerie Ron Mandos and Victoria Miro

Social justice is a constant focus of attention in his films, and for over 40 years, he has been committed to cultural activism, the politics and poetics of image, and the moral and social influence of picture-making. His large-scale installations, projected across several screens, explore how people have moved between different continents, times and spaces.

Installation view, Lessons of the Hour, 10-screen, Tate Britain, 2023 Photo: Jack Hems © Isaac Julien. Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro

The exhibition is organised by Tate Britain in London, in collaboration with Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in Düsseldorf and has received financial support from the Blockbusterfonds, VandenEnde Foundation, VriendenLoterij, het Cultuurfonds, Fonds 21, VSBfonds, Mondriaan Fund, UC Santa Cruz, Pro AV and the Municipality of Maastricht.

Header: Isaac Julien, Freedom / Diasporic Dream-Space No. 1 (Once Again...Statues Never Die), 2022, inkjet print on Canson Platine Fibre Rag. © Isaac Julien. Courtesy the artist, Galerie Ron Mandos and Victoria Miro


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