Arctic Re-visions: Isaac Julien’s True North

Karl and Bertl Arnstein Galleries
June 5, 2010 - October 3, 2010

The sound and video installation True North (2004) is a journey into the beautiful yet terrifying midst of a sublime continent. Internationally acclaimed British artist and filmmaker Isaac Julien immerses viewers in the haunting landscape of the North Pole, which has seduced scientists, explorers, writers and visual artists since the 19th century. This presentation of the three-screen multi-media installation will mark the debut of this important work from the museum’s collection. Julien describes True North as a cinematic “re-memorizing” of the story of Matthew Henson, the black engineer who accompanied polar explorer Robert Peary in 1909 on the first expedition to reach the North Pole. The video’s narration is taken from a shocking interview Henson gave in 1966, in which, 30 years after Peary’s death, Henson claimed that he had reached the Pole before Peary. Shot in Iceland, True North unfolds on three screens that span almost 40 feet. Images zoom in and out on the icy vistas to provide different perspectives on Henson’s journey. All the while mysterious and haunting sounds are layered with the voices and music to echo the vast, isolated landscape. Nominated in 2001 for Britain’s prestigious Turner Prize for his artistic work, Julien also won an award for one of his documentary films at the Cannes Film Festival in 1989. Since 1983, he has created films, video installations and photographs that break down the boundaries between artistic disciplines. This exhibition is organized by the Akron Art Museum and made possible by support from the Gay Community Endowment Fund, The Burton D. Morgan Foundation, the Harris-Stanton Gallery and The Welty Family Foundation.