Malcom Le Grice reviews Isaac Julien’s new video installation, Fantome Creol, at the Centre Pompidou in Paris.
Isaac Julien’s video installation Fantôme Créol (Creole Phantom, 2005) was shown on four very large adjacent screens: two on either side of the gallery; Baltimore (2003) had three equally large screens, but placed in an arc so that they could be viewed as a whole. The visual quality was fine, the carpeted gallery provided excellent acoustics, and comfortable seating encouraged spectators to watch the full cycle of each work – sadly a rare experience with film and video installations.
One quality underlying Julien’s work is his exceptional command of the aesthetics of cinema. His images are often sumptuous, and the film construction shows a great control of visual rhythm. These qualities, evident in his single-screen films such as Frantz Fanon: Black Skin, White Mask (1996), take on another, spectacular dimension when two or more screens are edited to harmonize or counterpoint image content, colour and movement.