Isaac Julien: Ten Thousand Waves, Shanghai

Isaac Julien: Ten Thousand Waves, Shanghai

Isaac Julien began his filmmaking career creating works for TV and cinema but he soon jumped ship to the art world, in search of greater creative freedom. Fusing dance, photography, music, theatre and sculpture, he creates an extraordinary visual language, which is currently being shown across nine different screens at ShanghART H-Space.

Titled ’Ten Thousand Waves’, the former Turner Prize nominee’s latest project sees him collaborating with some of China’s leading artistic lights, from the legendary siren of Chinese cinema Maggie Cheung to master calligrapher Gong Fagen.

Inspired by the Morecambe Bay tragedy of 2004, in which 23 Chinese cockle-pickers drowned, it explores migrants’ culture and what motivates people to take perilous journeys in search of a better life. Layering fact, fiction, poetry and film essay genres, it looks at modern and traditional Chinese values and superstitions.

Like most of his films, Ten Thousand Waves is as aesthetically pleasing as it is intellectually challenging - helped by the photogenic backdrop of the remote Guangxi province. His solo show at ShanghART is the gallery’s first for a foreign artist.

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