Isaac Julien's newly edited single-screen version of his visionary film Lessons of the Hour explores the incomparable achievements of Frederick Douglass, America’s foremost abolitionist figure. After escaping slavery in Maryland, Douglass gained prominence on the abolitionist circuit as an extraordinary orator, becoming the most photographed American of the 19th century. Julien’s project is informed by some of Douglass’s most important speeches, such as Lessons of the Hour, What to the Slave Is the 4th of July?, and Lecture on Pictures, the latter being a text that connects picture-making and photography to his vision of how technology influences human relations. Julien's work gives expression to the zeitgeist of Douglass’s era, his legacy, and the ways in which his story may be viewed through a contemporary lens. The presentation also includes photographs and tintypes produced in conjunction with the film.
Isaac Julien (born 1960 in London) has been making films and producing film installations for over 20 years. He is as acclaimed for his fluent, arresting films as well as for his vibrant and inventive gallery installations. One of the objectives of his work is to break down the barriers that exist between artistic disciplines, drawing from and commenting on film, dance, photography, music, theater, painting and sculpture, and uniting them to construct a powerfully visual narrative. Julien lives and works in London.