Once Again... (Statues Never Die) at the Sharjah Biennial 15

February 6, 2023

Isaac Julien's latest work Once Again... (Statues Never Die) will be part of the 15th Sharjah Biennial that opens on the 7th of February. 


Conceived by the late Okwui Enwezor and curated by Hoor Al Qasimi, Director of Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah Biennial 15: Thinking Historically in the Present (SB15) reflects on Enwezor’s visionary work, which transformed contemporary art and established an ambitious intellectual project that has influenced the evolution of institutions and biennials around the world.


In Once Again… (Statues Never Die) (2022), a five-screen black-and-white film installation exploring the legacies of the philosopher, critic and art historian Alain Locke and African art collector Albert Barnes, whose collection inspired both Locke and the Harlem Renaissance artists, Julien reimagines Locke’s relationship and correspondence with Barnes.


Drawing on Julien’s extensive research in the archives of the Barnes Foundation, the film explores the reciprocal impact of Alain Locke’s political philosophy and cultural organizing activities, and Albert E. Barnes’s pioneering art collecting and democratic, inclusive educational enterprise.


The film installation is accompanied by a series of sculptures from different periods, from the traditional African wooden masks to the bronze figure of Harlem Renaissance artist Richmond Barthé’s Stevedore (1937), and Matthew Angelo Harrison’s sculptures composed of various African ceremonial figures in resin which exemplify contemporary influences of Black modernism, the continuity of the role of statues in Black art, and the legacy of Locke and Barnes.


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