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Conversation w/ Issac Julien on His Artistic Work, "Lessons of the Hour: Fredrick Douglas"

Thursday, March 04, 2021
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Event Type:
Panel Discussion
San Francisco Public Library & MFA
Location Details:
Online event

Join the San Francisco Public Library and the McEvoy Foundation for the Arts for a conversation with artist Isaac Julien, as well as Celeste-Marie Bernier, Judith Butler
on Julien's work exploring the legacy of Fredrick Douglass and the influence of
key historical figures featured in his installation, "Lessons of the Hour: Frederick Douglas".

DATE: Thursday, 3/4/2021 @ 12:00 - 1:30 PM PT


While widely acknowledged as an icon of abolitionism, Frederick Douglass (1818–1895) is less understood as an early figure in the intersectional pursuit of human rights, a dissonance which informed filmmaker and artist Isaac Julien’s immersive moving-image art installation "Lessons of the Hour—Frederick Douglass" (2019).

In this wide-ranging conversation, Julien is joined by the celebrated philosopher and educator Judith Butler and acclaimed Douglass scholar Celeste-Marie Bernier to explore Douglass’ legacy as well as the influential role of figures on his artistic work such as his wife Anna Murray-Douglass, the suffragettes and others important to his life and voice. Butler’s renowned scholarship in the fields of philosophy, ethics and feminist, queer and literary theory guides her moderation of the conversation.

The West Coast premiere of Lessons of the Hour (October 14, 2020 – March 13, 2021) at McEvoy Foundation for the Arts in San Francisco has been closed due to COVID (

To view online images from Julien's work "Lessons for the House: Fredrick Douglas",
go to:

Judith Butler
Currently the Maxine Elliot Professor of Comparative Literature at University of California, Berkeley, Butler’s theories have compelled generations of activists, artists and students to grapple with notions of gender performativity, individualism and power.

Celeste-Marie Bernier
As professor of United States and Atlantic Studies at the University of Edinburgh, Bernier specializes in the literatures, histories, politics, visual cultures and philosophies of women, men and children living in the African Diaspora. Julien worked closely with Bernier on Lessons of the Hour’s narration to construct “tableaux vivants” that reimagine Douglass’ relationships to a range of key historical figures, including Murray-Douglass, his second wife Helen Pitts and the suffragette Susan B. Anthony
Added to the calendar on Fri, Feb 5, 2021 5:01PM
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