Kass Banning and Warren Crichlow provide a historical and theoretical assessment of renowned British artist and filmmaker Isaac Julien's ten-screen installation Lessons of the Hour: Frederick Douglass (2019). Lessons of the Hour is inspired by a combination of Douglass's own genre-breaking autobiographical writing, personal letters, and published lectures that mobilized tropes of visuality for his own unique rhetorical ends. With its sculptural multiscreen architecture, lush color palette, and immersive affordances and soundscape, Julien's Lessons is less concerned with rendering a hagiographic portrait of Douglass than in reactivating his visionary thought as a continued force for human rights in the twenty-first century. Lessons underscores that the nascent technology of photography and the renewed struggle for liberation from chattel slavery emerged simultaneously in the mid-nineteenth century; this confluence fosters Douglass's lifelong personal and theoretical inquiry into what both truth and sovereignty—and visuality—might entail.

This content is only available via PDF.