MoMA to Present Isaac Julien's TEN THOUSAND WAVES Film Installation, 11/25-2/17
The Museum of Modern Art presents renowned artist and filmmaker Isaac Julien's Ten Thousand Waves(2010), which was acquired by the Museum in 2012. The immersive installation, in a new configuration designed to fill the Donald B. and Catherine C. Marron Atrium, is on view from November 25, 2013, through February 17, 2014. The original inspiration for this 50-minute moving image installation, which is projected onto nine double-sided screens, was the Morecambe Bay tragedy of 2004, in which 23 Chinese cockle pickers drowned on a flooded sandbank off the coast of northwest England. Isaac Julien: Ten Thousand Waves is organized by Sabine Breitwieser, former Chief Curator (until January 31, 2013), with Martin Hartung, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Media and Performance Art, MoMA.
Ten Thousand Waves premiered at the 2010 Sydney Biennial and has since been exhibited internationally to wide acclaim. Its installation at MoMA is one of the most ambitious presentations of Ten Thousand Waves to date, and is the first to include screens hung at multiple levels. Measuring up to 23 feet wide, the screens are the largest ever to be hung in an exhibition at MoMA. Because the MoMA presentation is intended to be viewed not only from ground level in the Marron Atrium, but also from the upper floors that look down on the space, the configuration required the use of cutting-edge audio-visual and sound technologies. Much of Julien's work reflects on ideas of migration, and with this installation he intentionally requires multiple viewing perspectives, encouraging visitors' movement through the work.
On February 25, 2004, 23 Chinese migrant workers, employed as cockle pickers, were caught at night by a fast high tide and drowned in Morecambe Bay. Ten Thousand Waves incorporates archival footage recorded by a police helicopter on that night showing the rescue of one survivor from a sandbank in the rising tide, accompanied by audio recordings of the distress calls. With this tragedy at the center of the work, Julien poetically interweaves images of contemporary Chinese culture with its ancient myths-including the fable of the goddess Mazu (portrayed in the piece by Maggie Cheung), which comes from the Fujian Province, from whence the Morecambe Bay workers originated.