Ten Thousand Waves

  • 2010
  • Isaac Julien
  • Nine-screen installation. 35mm film, transferred to HD, 9.2 surround sound
  • 49 min. 42 s.
Its starting point is an event that occurred in Britain in 2004, in Morecambe Bay, when 23 Chinese cockle pickers, who had been smuggled illegally into the country, drowned on the incoming tide. The artist links this event to a 16th century Chinese legend about sailors saved by the goddess of the sea, Mazu. Shot in Shanghai and Guangxi province with leading figures from the Chinese artistic scene including actresses Maggie Cheung and Zhao Tao, artist Yang Fudong and master calligrapher Gong Fagen, the installation pays homage to Chinese culture in poetry, landscape, calligraphy and 1930s cinema. Weaving together a remake of the silent film The Goddess (1934), views of modern Shanghai, demonstrations on Tiananmen Square, the tea ceremony, scenes from the filming of Mazu levitating, and sequences of drownings, it immerses the viewer in a floating world that merges reality and myth.

© Isaac Julien. Photo © Fondation Louis Vuitton / Martin Argyroglo © Isaac Julien. Photo © Fondation Louis Vuitton / Martin Argyroglo © Isaac Julien. Photo © Fondation Louis Vuitton / Martin Argyroglo


Isaac Julien

A British artist with Caribbean roots, Isaac Julien examines the black and Asian diasporas since the Thatcher years through his favoured medium, film.

In 1983 he cofounded the British Sankofa Film and Video Collective. In 1995 he made a documentary series for television, The Question of Equality, about the history of the gay and lesbian movement in the United States. As well as looking at issues of gender and race, Julien uses different film and music sources in his work, which he recycles and remixes. He also interprets the exhibition format using multiple screens and special sound effects, creating a fluid space in which images and sound transcribe migration and the diaspora.

Read more

In the same hang