Skip to content Skip to footer

The Barnes Foundation Presents Isaac Julien: Once Again . . . (Statues Never Die)

Newly commissioned immersive film installation for Barnes centennial, exploring the relationship between Alain Locke & Dr. Albert C. Barnes and the contested presence of African sculptures in western museums

June 19–September 4, 2022
Press Preview: Wednesday, June 15, 9:30 am

Philadelphia, PA, April 27, 2022—This summer, in celebration of its centennial, the Barnes Foundation will debut a newly commissioned film installation by artist and filmmaker Isaac Julien, CBE RA (b. London, 1960). On view in the Roberts Gallery from June 19 through September 4, Once Again . . . (Statues Never Die), a five-screen installation, explores the close relationship of Dr. Albert C. Barnes, Barnes Foundation founder who was an early US collector and exhibitor of African material culture, and Alain Locke, a cultural theorist known as the Father of the Harlem Renaissance.

This exhibition is sponsored by the Ford Foundation’s JustFilms Initiative, Comcast NBCUniversal, and the National Endowment for the Arts, and is made possible by Agnes Gund, Emily and Mike Cavanagh, Marjorie Ogilvie and Miller Parker, Brenda A. and Larry D. Thompson, Darrell and Melenese Ford, and Ronald Blaylock.

Once Again . . . (Statues Never Die) stars André Holland (Moonlight and Passing) as Alain Locke, Danny Huston (Succession and Marlowe) as Dr. Barnes, Devon Terrell as sculptor Richmond Barthé, and Sharlene Whyte (Small Axe and Lessons of the Hour) as the curator. It also features a special appearance by singer and songwriter Alice Smith.

“This project explores Dr. Barnes’s and Alain Locke’s storied relationship, its mutually formative critical dialogue, and its significant impact on their work as cultural critics, educators, organizers, and activists on behalf of various African American causes,” says Julien.

Once Again . . . (Statues Never Die) examines the significant and often neglected place of African objects in numerous collections of western art museums. Utilizing poetic reparation and historical archives—drawing on Julien’s extensive research in the archives of the Barnes Foundation—the film explores the impact of Locke’s political philosophy and cultural organizing activities on Dr. Barnes’s pioneering art collecting and his democratic, inclusive educational enterprise. Additionally, it looks at contemporary debates around statues with recourse to the 1953 film by Chris Marker and Alain Resnais, Les statues meurent aussi (Statues Also Die). Combining the original script written by Isaac Julien and Martina Klich with recently discovered archival footage from the 1970 film You Hide Me by Nii Kwate Owoo about the African sculptures in the British Museum, the film engages with the current critical debates on African art collecting and repatriation of the sculptures.

Exploring Locke’s engagement with the Barnes collection, Isaac Julien aims both to honor Locke’s important contribution to the arts and to open critical conversations regarding the African art works that influenced the Black cultural movement. The installation spotlights Dr. Barnes’s subsequent writings on the meaning and value of African material culture and its import to the African diaspora, which were reproduced in such Harlem Renaissance periodicals as Opportunity. In the film, Julien revisits some of the themes he approached in his landmark 1989 film Looking for Langston and continues his exploration of the queer subculture of the Harlem Renaissance by exploring the relationship between Locke and sculptor Richmond Barthé with a staging of Barthé’s sculptures at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA). A selection of Barthé’s sculptures will also be presented in the Barnes exhibition.

“A visionary collector and pioneering educator, Dr. Barnes was also an advocate for the civil rights of African Americans, women, and the economically marginalized,” says Thom Collins, Neubauer Family Executive Director and President and exhibition curator. “Committed to racial equality and social justice decades before the advent of the civil rights movement, he established a scholarship program to support young Black artists, musicians, and writers—including Locke’s associates such as poet Gwendolyn Bennett and artist Aaron Douglas—who sought to further their education at the Foundation and beyond. It is this important and lesser-known chapter of the Barnes Foundation’s history that Isaac Julien—with his distinguished career as a maker of deeply compelling and thoughtful video installations, his sustained commitment to investigating African diasporic politics and culture, and his abiding interest in the Harlem Renaissance—is bringing to light.”

Following its debut at the Barnes, Once Again . . . (Statues Never Die) will be presented during the Sharjah Biennial 15: Thinking Historically in the Present in the United Arab Emirates in March 2023.

The Barnes has engaged cultural partners across Philadelphia, including the Fabric Workshop and Museum; Institute for Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania; and BlackStar Projects to present other works by Isaac Julien during the run of Isaac Julien: Once Again . . . (Statues Never Die) and beyond. Related programming is listed below.

The Fabric Workshop and Museum
In Focus: Isaac Julien
August 16, 2022–April 23, 2023
On view in the First Floor Gallery, In Focus: Isaac Julien presents a selection of works from the museum's permanent collection displayed in conversation with Julien’s Paradise (Omeros) #2, a photographic multiple created for the Fabric Workshop and Museum in 2002.

Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania
Poetic Cinema: Isaac Julien and the Sankofa Film and Video Collective
Curated by Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Penn Live Arts at the Annenberg Center, and BlackStar Projects.
A programmatic series of three works, developed in concert with artist and filmmaker Isaac Julien, from the Sankofa Film and Video Collective screened in-person at Penn Live Arts at the Annenberg Center and the Prince Theater. Each screening will be accompanied by a conversation between a scholar and artist or filmmaker providing context and building on the works presented.

Looking for Langston (1989, 45 min)
June 13, 2022
Prince Theater
Guest speakers in conversation: Isaac Julien, artist and filmmaker; Kaja Silverman, Katherine Stein Sachs CW'69 and Keith L. Sachs W'67 Professor Emerita of Art History at the University of Pennsylvania; and Ja'Tovia Gary, artist and filmmaker.

Territories (1984, 25 min) and Who Killed Colin Roach? (1983, 35 min)
July 11, 2022
Prince Theater
Guest speakers in conversation: Maori Karmael Holmes, CEO & Artistic Director of BlackStar Projects, and Thomas Allen Harris, Senior Lecturer, African American Studies & Film and Media Studies, Yale University.

The Passion of Remembrance (1986, 80 min), newly restored and premiering as a 4K version
August 3, 2022
In conjunction with the BlackStar Film Festival.
Zellerbach Theater, Penn Live Arts, Annenberg Center
Guest speakers in conversation: Karen Alexander, writer, educator and freelance curator, and Louis Massiah, documentary filmmaker and Founder/Director of Scribe Video Center.

Barnes on the Block

Sunday, June 19, 4–9 pm
Presented by PNC Arts Alive, and in partnership with Mural Arts Philadelphia, Barnes on the Block returns for another round of outdoor fun for the entire family. This year’s event coincides with Juneteenth, Father’s Day, and the opening of Isaac Julien: Once Again . . . (Statues Never Die). Meet us on the Parkway for visual art displays, live performances, food trucks, a beer garden, and more.

First Friday!
Friday, July 1, 6–9 pm

PECO Free First Sunday Family Day
Sunday, July 3, 10am–5 pm

Education Initiatives
Online Class: Understanding Video Art
Instructor: Matthew C. Feliz, Lecturer, Bryn Mawr College
July (dates will be listed on website)
Explore key works of video art and learn about the theories behind them. This is a four-week class that takes place online.

Workshop: Isaac Julien In Focus
Instructor: TK Smith, curator and writer
Tuesday, August 2, 10 am–4 pm
This one-day workshop, at the Barnes, explores key works in Julien’s oeuvre leading up to Isaac Julien: Once Again . . . (Statues Never Die). Students will have access to the exhibition.

Community Engagement
Barnes West
Barnes Presents! Harlem Renaissance in Review
August 18, 5:30 pm
Jazz performance at Saunders Park in West Philadelphia featuring classic Harlem Renaissance standards.

Created and directed by Isaac Julien, and co-written with Martina Klich, Once Again . . . (Statues Never Die) is commissioned by the Barnes Foundation and the Ford Foundation, with additional support from the Sharjah Art Foundation, Linda Pace Foundation, Carol Weinbaum & The University of California, Santa Cruz. This exhibition is presented at the Barnes Foundation and curated by Thom Collins, Neubauer Family Executive Director and President. Advisors to the project are Dan Hicks, Professor of Contemporary Archaeology at the University of Oxford and Curator at the Pitt Rivers Museum; Jeffrey C. Stewart, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke and MacArthur Foundation Chair and Distinguished Professor of Black Studies at UC Santa Barbara; curator, filmmaker, and writer Mark Nash; and Chika Okeke-Agulu, a Nigerian-born artist and scholar based in Princeton, New Jersey. The work is executive produced by Mark Nash and produced by Andrew Fierberg.

Isaac Julien, CBE RA (b. London, 1960), is a filmmaker and installation artist who currently lives and works between London and California. His multi-screen film installations and photographs incorporate different artistic disciplines to create a poetic and unique visual language. His 1989 documentary-drama exploring author Langston Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance titled Looking for Langston garnered Julien a cult following, while his 1991 debut feature Young Soul Rebels won the Semaine de la Critique prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Julien has participated in the Venice Biennale; the Gwangju Biennial, South Korea; Prospect 1, New Orleans; Performa 07, New York; and documenta 11, Kassel. His work is held in significant collections around the world. Julien has taught extensively, holding posts such as Chair of Global Art at University of the Arts London (2014–2016) and Professor of Media Art at Staatliche Hochschule für Gestaltung, Karlsruhe, Germany (2008–2016). He is the recipient of the James Robert Brudner ’83 Memorial Prize and Lectures at Yale University (2016). Most recently he received the Charles Wollaston Award (2017), for most distinguished work at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, and in 2018 he was made a Royal Academician. Julien was awarded the title Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen’s birthday honors, 2017. In 2022, he was awarded the prestigious Goslarer Kaiserring Award.

Isaac Julien is Distinguished Professor of the Arts at the University of California Santa Cruz, where he leads the Isaac Julien Lab together with critic and curator, Mark Nash. The Isaac Julien Lab was designed to mirror the Isaac Julien Studio in London and is a platform where students learn about the strategies behind the production of moving images, photographic works, exhibitions and publications. The Lab aims to create innovative pedagogical methodologies, visual and sonic languages for production, exhibition and installation while examining the various aspects that concern contemporary artists and curators working in the field of media art and moving image, in relationship to current modes of research, development, exhibition, production and scenography of moving image artworks.


This exhibition is sponsored by the Ford Foundation’s JustFilms Initiative, Comcast NBCUniversal, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

This exhibition is made possible by Agnes Gund, Emily and Mike Cavanagh, Marjorie Ogilvie and Miller Parker, Brenda A. and Larry D. Thompson, Darrell and Melenese Ford, and Ronald Blaylock.

Generous support for exhibitions comes from the Christine and Michael Angelakis Exhibition Fund, the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Exhibition Fund, the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, the Christine and George Henisee Exhibition Fund, and Aileen and Brian Roberts.

In addition, support for all exhibitions comes from contributors to the Barnes Foundation Exhibition Fund:

Joan Carter and John Aglialoro, Julia and David Fleischner, Leigh and John Middleton, Jeanette and Joe Neubauer

John Alchin and Hal Marryatt, Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz, Lois and Julian Brodsky, N. Judith Broudy, Laura and Bill Buck, Elaine W. Camarda and A. Morris Williams, Jr., Eugene and Michelle Dubay, Penelope P. Harris, Jones & Wajahat Family, Lisa D. Kabnick and John H. McFadden, Marguerite Lenfest, Maribeth and Steven Lerner, Leslie Miller and Richard Worley Foundation, Hilarie and Mitchell Morgan, The Park Family, The Rittenhouse Hotel, Adele K. Schaeffer, Katie and Tony Schaeffer, Dr. and Mrs. Eugene E. Stark, Joan F. Thalheimer, Bruce and Robbi Toll, van Beuren Charitable Foundation, The Victory Foundation, Kirsten White, Anonymous.

The Barnes Foundation is a nonprofit cultural and educational institution that shares its unparalleled art collection with the public, organizes special exhibitions, and presents programming that fosters new ways of thinking about human creativity. The Barnes collection is displayed in ensembles that integrate art and objects from across cultures and time periods, overturning traditional hierarchies and revealing universal elements of human expression. Home to one of the world’s finest collections of impressionist, post-impressionist, and modern paintings—including the largest groups of paintings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Paul Cézanne in existence—the Barnes brings together renowned canvases by Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani, and Vincent van Gogh, alongside African, Asian, ancient, medieval, and Native American art as well as metalwork, furniture, and decorative art.

The Barnes Foundation was established by Dr. Albert C. Barnes in 1922 to “promote the advancement of education and the appreciation of the fine arts and horticulture.” A visionary collector and pioneering educator, Dr. Barnes was also a fierce advocate for the civil rights of African Americans, women, and the economically marginalized. Committed to racial equality and social justice, he established a scholarship program to support young Black artists, writers, and musicians who wanted to further their education. Dr. Barnes was deeply interested in African American culture and became actively involved in the Harlem Renaissance, during which he collaborated with philosopher Alain Locke and Charles S. Johnson, the scholar and activist, to promote awareness of the artistic value of African art.

Since moving to Philadelphia in 2012, the Barnes Foundation has expanded its commitment to diversity, inclusion, and social justice, teaching visual literacy in groundbreaking ways; investing in original scholarship relating to its collection; and enhancing accessibility throughout every facet of its programs.

The Barnes Foundation is situated in Lenapehoking, the ancestral homeland of the Lenape people. Read our Land Acknowledgment.

Hours and ticket prices are listed on our website.


Deirdre Maher, Director of Communications
Online press office: