Isaac Julien: The Leopard (Western Union: Small Boats)

Saturday, Jan 26 – Apr 14, 2019 12 – 5 pm

Northwestern University
40 Arts Circle Dr.
Evanston, IL 60201

Alsdorf Gallery

“[A] refined fusion of politics, history, and stunningly lush aesthetics.” – Artforum

Isaac Julien’s renowned 2007 video installation, The Leopard (Western Union: Small Boats), presents a lyrical and visceral meditation on histories of African migration. Combining exquisite cinematography with elements of documentary, dance, and musical performance, The Leopard (Western Union: Small Boats) juxtaposes all-too-familiar images of Mediterranean passage— bodies crowded in rafts, laid out in reflective blankets on Italian shores, drowning in tempestuous waters—with the tranquil spaces of European tourism and luxury.

Born in London in 1960 to Caribbean immigrant parents, Julien has crafted a singular and expansive body of work that moves effortlessly between experimental film and narrative cinema, theatrical exhibition and video installation. With characteristic formal beauty and critical depth, The Leopard (Western Union: Small Boats) synthesizes Julien’s longstanding examination of diasporic and postcolonial experience in a moving and humanistic 20-minute work.

Presented in conjunction with The Block’s Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time, a groundbreaking exhibition on medieval African trade routes, The Leopard (Western Union: Small Boats) will be exhibited for the first time in Chicago. This cinematic masterpiece challenges viewers to contemplate the inequities of globalization and the cycles of displacement and violence that have bound Europe and Africa for centuries.


Cinema: Young Soul Rebels (Isaac Julien, 1991, UK, 35mm), Friday, March 15, 7 PM


Image: Western Union Series No. 8 (Sculpture for the New Millennium), 2007. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York © Isaac Julien