Isaac Julien will present his Venice Biennale video installation at Art Basel this month. It will be shown on a larger scale than previously seen, as a unique site specific installation filling the magnificent interior of the imposing church across ten screens. work ‘Stones Against Diamonds’ was commissioned as part of a Rolls-Royce sponsored art programme, will be shown at the Kirche Elisabethen, Basel, from 16-17 June 2015.
Isaac Julien’s film draws inspiration from a letter written by Brazilian architect Lina Bo Bardi. Stones Against Diamonds examines themes within her letter, where she praises the beauty of natural elements over preferred precious stones. Filming the work in remote Vatnajökull region, in South East Iceland, using the breathtaking scenery of glistening ice caves as a set for the film, Julien portrays some of the most beautiful objects as the least precious in a conventional sense.
Signature elements of Bo Bardi’s work have been incorporated into Julien’s work, including a staircase, meticulously built by hand in the ice cave during the production of the film. In a move providing technical challenges for the 50-strong crew, a larger version of the staircase was recreated during post-production before being merged, using CGI, replicating Bo Bardi’s famed spiral staircase.
Continuing the parallels, Julien incorporates Bo Bardi’s signature easels in his film, made of glass and concrete, two elements present in the majority of her work. The way in which Julien’s film will be installed in Basel continues this representation, as the artist will use multiple screens positioned to draw direct comparison with Bo Bardi’s work. Stones Against Diamonds will be shown on a loop, repeated five times within the hour across the ten screens, each time varying slightly to add an element of surprise for the viewer.
Isaac Julien, commented on the work, “It was the breadth of Lina Bo Bardi’s creative impulse and egalitarian beauty of her work that moved me to develop a poetic homage on the art and life of Brazil’s most important woman architect. Stones Against Diamonds is the beginning of my exploration of her emblematic architectural designs and innovative curatorial strategies that have inspired me following the centenary of her birth in 2014.”
Isaac Julien is one of Britain’s most important and influential installation artists and filmmakers. Born in London in 1960, where he currently lives and works, Julien studied at St Martins’ School of Art. His work draws from and comments on a range of disciplines and practices (film, dance, photography, music, theatre, painting, and sculpture) and unites them in dramatic audiovisual film installations, photographic works, and documentary films.
Julien shot to prominence with his 1989 drama-documentary Looking for Langston. In 1991 his film Young Soul Rebels won the Semaine de la Critique prize for best film at the Cannes Film Festival, and he was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2001 for his films The Long Road to Mazatlán (1999) and Vagabondia (2000).