Isaac Julien: True North

True North, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, 2007
2 - 24 March 2007

True North, is meditative and comprises reflective images of the sublime, and, like Julien's accompanying piece, Paradise Omeros, uses the landscape as a key location and theme. Loosely inspired by the story of the black American explorer, Matthew Henson (1866-1955) who accompanied Robert Peary and was one of the first people to reach the North Pole, later writing an account of his experience. In this fragmented narrative, Julien contemplates on ideas and histories of the hierarchical as well as in the struggling figure we find a succinct metaphor of endless traversing, symbolising the voyage of the modern that has to be experienced by others. The installation offers a fascinating new visual reading of space and time and its relation to counter histories. Here, the sublime moment of cognition of the image is presented to the mind which, in turn, can only comprehend the absolute of magnitude which itself defies conceptualisation. The installation contests binaries which are present in many notations of the expedition and of adventure that clutter the history of discovery- here reason, order and stability are replaced by irrational meanderings, symbolic gestures from shamanistic tropes and the constant seeping inertia of the ice.

Shaheen Merali


(Source: Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery)

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