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Lessons of the Hour: Isaac Julien

October 14, 2020 - March 13, 2021

A film still from Isaac Julien’s Lesson of the Hour. A Black woman and a Black man dressed in fine nineteenth century fashions sit in a high quality carriage. The woman reaches over to clasp the hand of the man, they both look out the carriage window.

From the press release:

On view October 14, 2020 – March 13, 2021 at McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, ‘Lessons of the Hour’ is a ten-screen immersive film installation and photography exhibition by British artist Isaac Julien that explores the life of the visionary African American abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Incorporating excerpts of his speeches and dramatizations of his private and public milieus, the film “Lessons of the Hour — Frederick Douglass” (2019) offers a contemplative, poetic journey into Douglass’ zeitgeist and a forceful suggestion that the lessons of the abolitionist’s hour have yet to be learned. Admission is free. McEvoy Arts is open Tuesday–Saturday, 11am–6pm.

Acclaimed for the spatial experiences of his film and photographic installations, Julien invites spectators to actively interpret his open-ended narratives through a physical and sensorial immersion. “Lessons’” narrative unfolds across multiple screens of different sizes, hung salon-style, to create what Julien describes as a “moving image montage” that realizes Douglass as the professional orator, the photography advocate, and the man affirming his struggle for equality as a global citizen. Historical figures from Susan B. Anthony to the African American photographer J.P. Ball are included as representatives of equality that affirm an intersectional approach to the struggle for human rights.

At a time of renewed national interest in Douglass’ legacy, McEvoy Arts presents the West Coast premiere of “Lessons” and an installation of Julien’s photographs of the film’s subjects, as well as a complementary grouping of works from the McEvoy Family Collection. The exhibition includes the resonant daily video program ‘New Labor Movements’ and a series of online talks that further consider the ideas, people, and histories explored in the exhibition.

McEvoy Arts’ top priority is the health and well-being of our visitors and staff. Find more safety and reservation information available at mcevoyarts.org/visit.



Wheelchair accessible, ASL interpretation, Assistive listening devices, Service Animals allowed
BIPOC-curated, BIPOC artist(s), LGBTQIA+ curated
Event Type
Gallery, Visual Art, Film & Video
Pandemic Info
By Appointment


McEvoy Foundation for the Arts
1150 25th Street
San Francisco, CA 94107 United States
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