Sometimes it takes trans-Atlantic interest and collaboration to bring a passion project from the planning stages into fruition. To mark the occasion of Isaac Julien’s photography exhibit at the Victoria Miro Gallery in London (through July 29), “I Dream a world” Looking for Langston, he sat down with Pulitzer winner Hilton Als to discuss the trepidations of the project and the inspiration behind it.
“One of the things that linked us was that we were really looking for something that explained how we had come to be,” said Als in a discussion with Julien. “And I think it was our love of these people and wanting to know them that really gave us the energy, or you, to make the film.”
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Julien continued, “I was in a way searching for a kind of canon or history of black artists, and I was looking to America for that history. In a sense I was involved in being an art school student, but had only become familiarized with the black arts movement, which was named the Harlem Renaissance, after I left at school. [I was] thinking about jazz, thinking about a black America.”
The pair also discuss how the work relates to black gay desire, the AIDS crisis and movement, and the ever-present specter of discrimination that haunts society. Watch their conversation below, and find more information on the exhibit, here.