March 14, 2006 – Metro Pictures will exhibit a selection of photographs from a newly released portfolio, "Looking for Langston," by Isaac Julien and Sunil Gupta. The black and white photographs were taken by Gupta during the filming of Julien's acclaimed 1989 film Looking for Langston and are being exhibited for the first time. The individual images are evocative, richly detailed works that articulate the strikingly crafted visual qualities of the film. A video presentation of Looking for Langston will also be on view.
The 26-image portfolio sets a high standard for photographs that parallel film projects – they are intense renderings of the visual components that might be missed in a filmic image. Gupta's photographs capture key elements and nuances of Julien's film production, including the staging, lighting, iconography and choreography.
Isaac Julien's Looking for Langston is a fantasy meditation on the issues of race, sexuality and art shared by Langston Hughes and his contemporaries during the Harlem Renaissance, and explores their evolution in the late 1980s when the film was made. In the film, Julien draws on film noir, the nudes and fashion shots of photographer George Platt Lynes, and James Van Der Zee's funeral photographs and portraits of Harlem residents during the 30's and 40's.
Isaac Julien was born in 1960 in London, where he currently lives. He studied painting and filmmaking at St. Martin's School of Art. Julien's work has been exhibited at museums in Europe and the U.S., including the MAK Center, Los Angeles, MOCA North Miami, and the Centre Pompidou, Paris all in 2005; and the Contemporary Museum, Baltimore, the Aspen Art Museum and the Bohen Foundation, New York in 2003. Julien has been a visiting lecturer at Harvard and the Whitney Museum's Independent Study Program. He is currently the Visiting Mellon Professor at the University of Pittsburgh.
In 2003 he won the Grand Jury Prize at the Kunstfilm Biennale in Cologne. His film Young Soul Rebels received the Semaine de la Critique prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1991. His upcoming projects include Fantôme Afrique at The Laboratory of Art and Ideas at Belmar, Denver, fall 2006; a new performance production that includes large-scale video projections and live a dance performance at the Tate Modern, London, in March 2007; and a performance at Performa 07, New York, in fall 2007.
Sunil Gupta was born in New Delhi in 1953 and now lives in London and New Delhi. A widely-exhibited photographer, Gupta is also an author and curator whose work focuses on race and cultural politics.