This filmic triptych follows its protagonist from St. Lucia, to urban England, and back to St. Lucia on an emblematic search for “home.” Based upon the Nobel Prize winning epic Omeros by Caribbean poet Derek Wolcott, Isaac’s shifting narrative frames cultural references relating to the Westernized promised land. The vibrant Caribbean imagery of Paradise/Omeros lends itself to the Artpace print which shows island foliage flanked by mirrored images of a young man, arms folded and eyes closed, in a moment of introspection.
Isaac Julien came to prominence in the early 1980s as a founding member of the Sankofa Film/Video Collective, one of the first workshops in the UK to explore new ideas of representing black identity. From his critically acclaimed documentaries Looking for Langston (1989) and Badasssss Cinema (2002), to his multi-channel installations such as Baltimore (2003), Isaac’s work combines dreamlike rhythms and lush imagery in stylized narratives. His films subvert the cinematic gaze to address stereotypes of masculinity, race, and sexual difference both head on and metaphorically. During his 1999 Artpace residency he wowed Texas with The Long Road to Mazátlan, which has now screened internationally and was the centerpiece of his Turner Prize nomination in 2000 and at Documenta 11 he took audiences by storm with Paradise/Omeros.
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