Once Again . . . (Statues Never Die) (2022)

Isaac Julien
Once Again … (Statues Never Die)
5-channel video projection 32 minutes 13 seconds
Commissioned by Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, and Ford Foundation, New York; co-commissioned by Sharjah Art Foundation. Additional support provided by Linda
Pace Foundation, San Antonio, USA; Carol Weinbaum; Wemhöner Collection, Berlin; and University of California, Santa Cruz
Courtesy of the artist


Isaac Julien’s practice often examines the politics of masculinity, class and race as well as deconstructs and reclaims Black histories. Once Again . . . (Statues Never Die) (2022), a mesmerising five-channel black-and-white video installation, reimagines the relationship and correspondence between the philosopher, critic and cultural leader Alain Locke and African art collector Albert Barnes. Intercut with archival footage of looted African artworks held by the British Museum and augmented with quotes from poets Aimé Césaire and Langston Hughes, the film offers a history that contextualises contemporary efforts for reparations. Traditional African wooden masks sit next to the bronze figure of Richmond Barthé’s Stevedore (1937) and Matthew Angelo Harrison’s sculptures composed of various African ceremonial figures in resin. These sculptures exemplify contemporary influences of Black modernism, the continuity of the role of statues in Black art, and the legacy of Locke and Barnes.