new-york

Isaac Julien

Metro Pictures/Brooklyn Academy of Music

Isaac Julien’s multiscreen film installation WESTERN UNION: Small Boats, 2007, advances his already refined fusion of politics, history, and stunningly lush aesthetics. Julien is utterly sensual in his approach to imagemaking; his films take physical pleasure in both the human body and its natural and created environment. At the same time, this Londoner of Caribbean descent has both shaped and been shaped by the postcolonial thought of recent decades—the exploration of culture and identity, migration and diaspora, that has become so important a legacy of an intellectual generation. Those who lived through the culture wars of the ’80s and ’90s will remember how art with any kind of social address risked being tarred as “didactic,” as failing in art’s duty to be beautiful. Working out of both temperament and intelligence, Julien has answered that attack, making gorgeous art alive to its

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