I Am Seen…Therefore, I Am: Isaac Julien and Frederick Douglass
May 18–August 24, 2023
Sir Isaac Julien’s immersive, multi-screen film installation Lessons of the Hour anchors this exploration of Frederick Douglass’ reflections on image-making, race, and citizenship. Co-curated by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Sarah Elizabeth Lewis, and presented in collaboration with The Amistad Center for Art & Culture, the exhibition brings together rare ninteenth-century daguerreotypes—on public view for the first time—saluting the studio practices of the African American photographers of Douglass’s era, as well as the many compelling sitters who sought to have their images captured and remembered. Juxtaposing these historic images with Julien’s contemporary work, the presentation represents a dialogue between local and international, between Douglass’s encounters with the citizenry of Hartford, Connecticut, and the continuing international reach of his unfinished movement for social justice. I Am Seen…Therefore, I Am: Isaac Julien and Frederick Douglass marks the 180th anniversary of Douglass’s first visit to Hartford in May 1843.
Isaac Julien, J.P. Ball Studio, 1867 Douglass (Lessons of the Hour), 2019. Framed archival pigment print mounted on aluminum. The Douglas Tracy Smith and Dorothy Potter Smith Fund. Courtesy of the artist, Victoria Miro, and Jessica Silverman, San Francisco.
Curated by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Sarah Elizabeth Lewis and presented in collaboration with The Amistad Center for Art & Culture.
I Am Seen…Therefore, I Am: Isaac Julien and Frederick Douglass is made possible through the generous support of The Larsen Fund for Photography, The Cheryl Chase and Stuart Bear Family Foundation, David T. Langrock Foundation, The Edward C. And T. Roberts Foundation, Travelers, Mally and James Cox-Chapman, M. D., and the Wadsworth Exhibition Fund supported by the Estates of James Lyon, Karen Kelleher, and Susannah Shickman.