In 2013 Outset was delighted to facilitate a new work by Isaac Julien. Playtime, which comprises a multi screen installation, and Kapital, a double-monitor film, exploring current debates on the relationships between capital, the art world and the individual.
Consisting of three chapters, Playtime is set across three cities defined by their relationship to capital: London, a city transformed by the deregulation of banks; Reykjavik, where the 2008 crisis began; and Dubai, one of the Middle East’s burgeoning financial markets. Following the five main characters identified only as The Art Dealer, The Houseworker, The Artist, The Auctioneer and The Reporter, Playtime asks how these diverse characters are entangled in capital and how they are implicated in the global financial crisis. All the characters in Playtime are based on real individuals whom Julien interviewed and researched extensively. The work blurs the line between documentary and fiction by mixing dialogue performed by actors with excerpts from the interviewees themselves.
Kapital presents Julien and David Harvey, author of the book The Enigma of Capital, in conversation with theorists, critics and curators at the Hayward Gallery in London. The film opens by asking how we can visualize modern capital. As the conversation progresses it becomes clear that the problem of visualizing such an abstract notion is itself linked to other questions such as: what commonalities and differences are there between the capital of today and that described by Marx? How does capital relate to the art market and what effect does it have on art’s attempts to depict capital and its effects? Julien’s technique of parallel montage is developed in Kapital as he uses two screens to equalize the process of theoretical enquiry, bringing artist, theorist, audience, academic and student onto a horizontal but constantly shifting plane.
A three-minute version of Julien’s Playtime plays on 17 electronic billboards in Times Square, 1–30 December, 2013, every night from 11.57pm until midnight, presented by Times Square Arts and the Times Square Advertising Coalition.
Isaac Julien has had solo exhibitions at Centre Pompidou, Paris; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; Institute of Contemporary Arts, Boston; Art Institute of Chicago; Milwaukee Art Museum; Bass Museum of Art, Miami; St. Louis Art Museum; Kestnergesellschaft, Hannover; SESC Pompeia, Sao Paulo; and Aspen Art Museum. Julien participated in the 2004 Whitney Biennial, 8th Shanghai Biennale; and 2012’s La Triennale at Palais de Tokyo, Paris. His films have been included in film festivals such as the Cannes Film Festival, Berlin Biennale and Venice Film Festival.