On the occasion of his platinum jubilee, Queen Elizabeth released him 2022 Birthday Honors List June 1, and among the special honorees was UC Santa Cruz Distinguished Art Professor Dr. Isaac Julien, who was knighted. THe is cited in the Queen’s Honors List as Julien received his knighthood for services to diversity and inclusion in the arts.
Julien, who received earlier Awarded Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2017, a critically acclaimed British filmmaker and installation artist. His multi-screen film installations have been widely presented in major museums and galleries around the world, including the TATE, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Center Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Maxi Museum in Rome, and many others. Julian’s work has been exhibited in some of the world’s most prestigious contemporary art exhibitions including the Venice Biennale, Performa, Documenta and more.
Julian’s art practice breaks down barriers between different artistic disciplines, from film, dance, photography, music, theatre, painting and sculpture to drawing and commentary, bringing them together to give voice to neglected, often black and queer narrative experiences.
His 1989 drama-documentary Looking for LangstonA poetic exploration of Langston Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance, the first Julien gained widespread international attention, When his 1991 debut feature Young souls rebel Won the Semaine de la Critique award at the Cannes Film Festival. Recent works include a 2019 ten-screen installation Doomsday lessons, A meditation on the life and times of Frederick Douglass, lately entered Collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Julien Knight is one of only a handful of black British artists to receive the title. Filmmaker Steve McQueen and painter Frank Bowling have both received the award in recent years.
“It is a great honor to receive a knighthood at this particular time, and I hope it highlights the importance of questions of diversity and inclusion for the arts,” said Julien. “Visual art has led the way around these questions, and my work as a professor and educator in Santa Cruz is a central aspect of my practice. Therefore, it is imperative that the arts maintain their central role in universities worldwide in light of the current constraints they are facing. We can only hope that those seeking to lead change in education will recognize the importance of the arts at this critical moment of social change.”
Julian, along with independent curator and writer Mark Nash, former head of contemporary art at the Royal College of Art, London, founded Isaac Julien Lab at UCSC when they officially join the faculty in 2019. Students draw moving and still images to create visual and sonic languages for productions, exhibitions and installations, and have the opportunity to assist Julian in researching and producing projects in both California and London. The artist has a studio. Several of Julian’s projects have developed out of UCSC’s lab, including his latest, Once again…(idols never die)Opens this month at Barnes in Philadelphia.
“Our lab, dedicated to excellence in creating and curating moving images, has amazing students from across campus and from around the world. They are doing remarkable projects that need massive support and recognition! Julien said. “Beginning in 1994, when my partner Mark Nash and I were first invited by such luminaries as Teresa de Lauretis to teach courses in the History of Consciousness Department, I have always viewed UC Santa Cruz as a special and unique research and teaching institution. We met people here who we have long admired, such as Angela Davis who inspired my 1986 film. The emotion of remembrance, James Clifford, artist Victor Bergin, Donna Haraway. Today we have excellent contemporary, extraordinary artists and scholars, and Dean Selin of the Arts Division. Parenus Shimizu who proudly champion diversity and inclusion. All have a lasting effectn contributing to our lab, as well as my work as an artist and filmmaker and my teaching.”
“Eminent Professor Sir Isaac Julian’s work inspires us to achieve the consciousness that art alone enables,” said Parenius Shimizu. “At UCSC, he showed great generosity to his students, sharing global respect for his work to launch the next generation of scholars and artists. We celebrate the generosity of our beloved colleague as an example of this great honor.”