Film-Noir Staircase (Looking for Langston Vintage Series), 1989/2016 Image Courtesy Victoria Miro Gallery

Isaac Julien: Looking for Langston

I thoroughly enjoyed the screening of Isaac Julien’s 1989 film, Looking for Langston, at Tate Britain last night.

From Tate Britain’s website:

[Looking for Langston’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.

This screening is a rare opportunity to see Isaac Julien’s celebrated film in its original 16mm format.

It is a film of my time and was a brave film of its’ time – overtly referencing the AIDS crisis, anti-gay prejudice and the persistence of racial discrimination. It did not debut to a friendly reception even in cosmopolitan New York.

Yet, it is also a beautiful film, stunningly shot in monochrome, gifted with as much social and cultural reference as political.

The fantastic musical soundtrack vibrantly Illuminates the passage of the film’s historical narrative, linking us aurally to the visual imagery of past and present that we see before us.

Following the screening, in interview, Isaac Julien spoke about the film and participated in audience Q&A. Very engaging for those of us who grew up in the period.

I think it was Nina Kellgren, the cinematographer on the film, in the audience, who said that she had never experienced such an enjoyable time working on a film and never would’ve imagined that, some thirty years later, it would be shown in the Tate and used in teaching courses on Black History.

It’s weird for all of us to see our youth become history whilst we’re still here, living our lives but I guess that’s what happens: significant events, significant times. It’s just one thing after another.

Making Beautiful History.

Further reference:

There is an exhibition, at Victoria Miro Gallery, London, on until 29 July 2017, exhibiting stills from the film – Isaac Julien: “I dream a world” Looking for Langston

Isaac Julien’s seminal work Looking for Langston (1989/2017) is the focus of this exhibition of newly-conceived, large-scale and silver gelatin photographic works and archival material.

Click the link above to see more about the exhibition and the works displayed. I shall definitely be trying to get across there before it ends.

Weekend Smiles 💋

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