STAY INSPIRED with Isaac Julien

A conversation between the Sammlung Goetz and the artist about daily motivation and inspiration



What is your daily motivation, Isaac Julien?

It is hard to isolate one or even a few sources of motivations since I can say that I live and breathe my work, so my motivation is creating, in response and in dialogue with history and current events. I am lucky enough to be part of a wonderful network of friends and collaborators who are also an endless source of intellectual and emotional nurturing.

Where do you get your inspiration from in these days?

In general, my artistic practice is a poetic commentary on history, theory, politics. I think we can all agree that the current global scenario has plenty of issues to reflect, problematize and elaborate upon. But I also draw inspiration from conversations I maintain with curators, scholars, artists, students. Sometimes an exhibition proposal or the commissioning of a new work can be incredibly inspiring, as they may change the way I look at my own body of work or invite completely new ideas and themes into my practice.

What are you currently working on?

I have been mostly dedicated to the Isaac Julien Lab at University of California, Santa Cruz where myself and my partner Mark Nash are based for part of the year, conducting a graduate programme specialising in moving-image art and curating. Also, I have been in many webinars and conversations for the presentation of Lessons of the Hour – Frederick Douglass in the United Kingdom this year, a prospect which excites me a great deal! Another solo show will take place this year, with Lina Bo Bardi – A Marvellous Entanglement being shown at the Guggenheim Bilbao. We are producing a large publication dedicated to the piece and Douglass, and a new project with various institutions, to premiere at Sharjah Biennale in 2022. There are a few other major projects which I’m enormously excited about and will announce soon.

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