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Columbus Museum of Art

October 2018

Isaac Julien: Looking for Langston

October 5, 2018February 3, 2019

In celebration of the 30th anniversary of Isaac Julien’s landmark 1989 film Looking for Langston, the Columbus Museum of Art presents an installation of the film alongside a selection of related photographic works. Made at the height of the AIDS epidemic in London and New York, Looking for Langston is composed of archival moving images and original footage that reimagines on the life of poet Langston Hughes and a community of gay artists during the Harlem Renaissance. The film collapses both time and geography, mixing the words of Hughes, James Baldwin, and Essex Hemphill and the sounds of blues, jazz, and 1980s house music.

While some photographic works distill the narrative of the film, others reflect upon its own making and artistic lineages. Julien’s sumptuous monochrome images consciously mine the aesthetics of black and queer histories, from James VanDerZee’s funerary and studio portraits of Harlem residents during the 1920s and 1930s, to George Platt Lynes’s male nudes during the 1930s, to Robert Mapplethorpe’s erotized photographs of black men during the 1980s. Foregrounding black, queer experiences within both an American and international context, the work maintains its urgency today.

Isaac Julien: Looking for Langston will be presented in conjunction with I, Too, Sing America, a major survey exhibition of painting, sculpture, photography, literature, music, and film made in Harlem and beyond during the 1920s and 1930s, including 40 photographs by James VanDerZee.

  • Isaac Julien, Pas de Deux No. 2, 1989/2016. Kodak Premier print, Diasec mounted on aluminum, 70¾ x 102¼ inches. Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman Gallery

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Columbus Museum of Art

480 E Broad St
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 221-6801

Hours: Tue–Wed 10am–5pm, Thurs 10am–9pm, Fri–Sun 10am–5pm

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