MCASD welcomes British artist Isaac Julien for the West Coast premier of his most ambitious project to date, Ten Thousand Waves. Julien, known for his arresting films as well as his dynamic gallery installations, poetically weaves together stories linking China’s ancient past and present in this intriguing nine-screen video installation.
Conceived and made over four years, Ten Thousand Waves was filmed on location in the ravishing and remote Guangxi province and at the famous Shanghai film Studios and various sites around Shanghai.
Through formal experimentation and a series of unique collaborations, Julien seeks to engage with Chinese culture through contemporary events, ancient myths and artistic practice. Julien engaged many of China’s leading artistic voices in creating the film. The original inspiration for Ten Thousand Waves was the Morecambe Bay tragedy of 2004, in which 23 Chinese cockle-pickers died. In response to this event, Julien commissioned the poet Wang Ping to come to England and write Small Boats, a poem that is recited in the work. In the successive years, Julien has spent time in China slowly coming to understand the country and its people’s perspectives and developing the relationships that have enabled him to undertake this rich and multifaceted work.
Isaac Julien: Ten Thousand Waves is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and is made possible thanks to a generous lead gift from Maryanne and Irwin Pfister. Related programs are supported by grants from the James Irvine Foundation Arts Innovation Fund, the County of San Diego Community Enhancement Fund, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Institutional support for MCASD is provided, in part, by the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture.