Isaac Julien and Leila Weefur: In Conversation

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Date(s) - 10/15
12:00pm - 1:00pm

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This event is presented by McEvoy Foundation for the Arts.

Moving-image and time-based artworks can visualize multiple temporalities at once and bridge the gap between lessons of the inevitable past and the possibilities of the expectant future. In this online conversation to celebrate the opening of new exhibitions at McEvoy Foundation for the Arts in San Francisco, two innovators in the creation and presentation of video art, British artist Isaac Julien CBE RA and Oakland-based artist, curator, and writer Leila Weefur, discuss the poetics and architecture of cinema. Julien’s immersive film and photography exhibition ‘Lessons of the Hour’ and Weefur’s resonant video program ‘New Labor Movements’ are on view at McEvoy Arts from October 14, 2020 through March 13, 2021.

Isaac Julien’s artistic practice incorporates the moving image, photography, and installation to create open-ended narratives that invite spectators to interpret the work through the act of physical and sensorial immersion. “Lessons of the Hour—Frederick Douglass” (2019), presents an urgent and immersive ten-screen film installation and photography exhibition that explores the life of Frederick Douglass, the visionary African American writer, abolitionist, statesman, and freed slave. ‘Lessons’ offers a poetic and contemplative journey into Douglass’ zeitgeist and its relationship to contemporaneity through a montage of images, vignettes, and dramatizations that explore his legacy as a man struggling to affirm his equality as a global citizen, as the most photographed man of the nineteenth century, and as a historical figure of enduring cultural influence whose writings and oratory continue to shape conversations on race, patriotism, and human rights. Julien’s tintype portraits and mise en scènes photographs of the film’s subjects and works from the McEvoy Family Collection selected by Julien and independent writer and curator Mark Nash are also included.

Leila Weefur’s (She/They/He) practice in video, installation, writing, and curation examines the performativity intrinsic to systems of belonging present in our lived experiences. Their resonant video program ‘New Labor Movements’ creates an intertextual dialogue between emerging and established filmmakers whose works function as thoughtful responses to intergenerational conceptions of America and transnational Blackness. Through a series of “film movements,” presented at McEvoy Arts across 2020 and 2021, Weefur assembles a compositional discourse that explores philosophical, psychological, and emotional landscapes implicated in the lives of those living in the aftermath of slavery’s indirect effects.

This conversation is moderated by Greg Niemeyer, Chair and Professor for New Media in the Department of Art Practice at the University of California, Berkeley. It is co-produced by McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, and Berkeley Arts + Design.

‘Lessons of the Hour’ and ‘New Labor Movements’ are on view at McEvoy Arts in San Francisco, October 14, 2020 – March 13, 2021. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, visitors may want to contact McEvoy Arts via or (415) 580-7605 before their arrival. Free, timed-entry reservations are available at McEvoy Arts takes seriously the health and safety of its visitors. Find admissions and health policies at

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Arts + Design Thursdays is made possible thanks to support from the Big Ideas Courses Program in the College of Letters & Science at UC Berkeley and from generous supporters of Berkeley Arts + Design. Technical support and presentation offered by UC Berkeley College of Letters & Science, Division of Arts & Humanities. In-kind support provided by BAMPFA.

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