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The Museum of Modern Art Presents Isaac Julien: Lessons of the Hour May 19 to September 28

The Museum of Modern Art
May 19 Through Sep 28 | Sun | 10:30AM | General Admission
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The Museum of Modern Art presents Isaac Julien: Lessons of the Hour at the Museum of Modern Art from May 19th through September 28th.

In Lessons of the Hour (2019), Sir Isaac Julien presents an immersive portrait of abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who obtained freedom from chattel slavery in 1838 and became one of the most important orators, writers, and statespersons of the 19th century. Across the 10 screens of this video installation, a nonlinear narrative melds Douglass’s life and work with excerpts from several of his speeches, literary works, and personal correspondence. The most photographed American of his era, Douglass understood that portraiture could challenge racist tropes and advance the freedom and civil rights of Black Americans and subjugated people around the world.

For the first time, historical objects directly related to Lessons of the Hour will be on view alongside the work. They include albumen silver print portraits of Douglass, pamphlets of his speeches, first editions of his memoirs, a facsimile of a rare manuscript laying out his ideas about photography, and a specially designed wallpaper composed of period newspaper clippings, broadsides, magazine illustrations, and scrapbook pages. These objects reveal how Douglass’s image and words circulated in the transatlantic, 19th-century world, and also bear out Julien’s insight in Lessons of the Hour: that Douglass’s ideas about citizenship, democracy, and human dignity remain timeless.

Lessons of the Hour is named after an address that Douglass gave at the Metropolitan AME Church in Washington, DC, in 1894, a year before his death. In it, Douglass warned of lynchings and other disenfranchisements that enforced anti-Black racism. Julien alludes to this speech throughout the work. Lessons of the Hour also examines Douglass’s profound understanding of the potential of photographic portraiture to challenge racist tropes and advance the freedom and civil rights of Black Americans and subjugated peoples around the world.

The work features re-imagined private scenes that depict Douglass and Anna Murray sitting for separate portraits in the studio of the prominent African American photographer J. P. Ball, and of Douglass delivering passages from a speech now known as “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” (Rochester, 1852), as well as his “Lecture on Pictures” (Boston, 1861).

More information on the exhibition visit moma.org, or click here.

WHAT: Isaac Julien: Lessons of the Hour

WHEN: May 19 – September 28 WHERE: The Museum of Modern Art 11 West 53rd Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues New York, NY 10019

TICKETS: General Admission

Venue: The Museum of Modern Art

11 West 53rd Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues Map
212-708-9400