Fantôme Créole Series (Papillon no. 1)

Isaac Julien (1960 - )

Diptych of Lambda prints on gloss paper


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Image of Fantôme Créole Series (Papillon no. 1)
  • About the work
    Country: UK
    City: London
    Place: Government Art Collection

    An old-fashioned manual sewing machine is set into a weathered wooden tabletop, acting as the main focal point of this diptych, and contrasts with the blurred view of elaborately decorated buildings in the background. The buildings visible in the background are painted with abstract geometric designs and are typical of traditional architecture found in Tiebele, a village in the south-eastern region of Burkina Faso, close to the border of Ghana. 

    Isaac Julien’s choice of French to describe the sewing machine’s name recalls the country’s former existence under French colonial rule. Dating from the sixteenth century, the hand-painted buildings illustrate one aspect of striking historical architecture in Africa. The activity of painting buildings continues today during annual festivals organised by women of the village. 

    Fantôme Créole Series (‘Papillon No. 1’) is part of a photographic series that is related to a film installation, Fantôme Afrique that Julien made in 2005. Concerned with the migration and mapping of people and cultural traditions across the world, his projects have incorporated subjects from diverse geographical locations such as Africa and Scandinavia. 

    While travelling in Africa, Julien visited Ougadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, primarily to attend its internationally renowned African film festival. It was during this trip that he visited Tiebele and was inspired by the rich cultural heritage of the area.

  • About the artist
    Isaac Julien’s parents were born in the Caribbean, and emigrated to Britain in the 1950s. Although he was born and grew up in Manchester, his family’s cultural background and history has inspired much of his work, in particular the effects of migration on personal identity and issues around living within a diasporic community. Julien studied painting and fine art film at St Martin’s School of Art and established a reputation as an innovative filmmaker during the early 1990s, most notably with Young Soul Rebels, a prizewinner at the Cannes Film Festival in 1991. Since then his practice has moved towards the visual arts, although film and photography continue to form major components of his work. The recipient of numerous awards, Julien was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2001, won the Grand Jury Prize at the Kunst Film Biennale in Cologne in 2003, and the Golden Gate Persistence of Vision Award, at the San Francisco International Film Festival in 2014. He has exhibited and screened his work internationally since the 1990s, and is currently Professor of Media Art at Staatliche Hochschule für Gestaltung, Karlsruhe, Germany; and Chair, Professor of Global Art, at the University of the Arts, London. He is also a Patron of Stuart Hall Foundation, London; Trustee of Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town, South Africa; Parasol Unit, London; and Trustee of Art Pace Foundation, San Antonio, USA. In 2018, Julien was awarded a CBE for services to the Arts.
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  • Details
    Fantôme Créole Series (Papillon no. 1)
    Diptych of Lambda prints on gloss paper
    height: 119.50 cm, width: 119.50 cm
    Purchased from Victoria Miro, November 2005
    Victoria Miro Gallery, London
    GAC number