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Isaac Julien: The Long Road to Mazatlán

July 26, 2013–April 13, 2014
Gallery 186

One of England’s most important artists and independent filmmakers, and a founder of the pioneering Sankofa Film and Video Collective (1983–92), Isaac Julien creates highly seductive films and video installations that explore the representation of race and masculinity in visual culture.

Conflating conventional cinematic structure with avant-garde techniques, Julien subverts stereotypical portrayals of black and gay subjects, forcing viewers to question accepted representational archetypes. Produced collaboratively with Venezuela-born choreographer Javier De Frutos, The Long Road to Mazatlán is a modern cowboy story. Shot in and around San Antonio, Texas, the film captures the erotically charged interchanges between a young Hispanic man and the emotionally unavailable cowboy he pursues. Shot in lush color and layered imagery, the protagonists play out, as actors and at times as dancers, the subtle drama of the everyday, performing within carefully constructed environments. Through selected editing and the use of a three-screen installation, the artist composes a mise-en-scène that explores the social construction of masculinity within the mythic landscape of the American West.

The Long Road to Mazatlán was originally commissioned by Artpace San Antonio.

This exhibition is made possible through the generous support of the Community Associates of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Isaac Julien. The Long Road to Mazatlán, 1999. Choreography and movement by Javier De Frutos. Gift of Donna and Howard Stone, 2007.41