18 December 2010
To coincide with the opening weekend program of ‘21st Century: Art in the First Decade’, a special presentation of Isaac Julien’s Better Life 2010, a cinematic presentation of the five-channel video installation Ten Thousand Waves 2010 which premiered at the 17th Sydney Biennale, and The Leopard 2010, a single-channel version of WESTERN UNION: Small Boats 2007 that is featured in the ‘21st Century’ exhibition. Both films were recently presented out of competition at the 67th Venice Film Festival.
Better Life explores the ambitions and dreams that drive people to risk everything for a 'better life'. The film does this through three interweaving 'ghost' stories, unwinding simultaneously: scenes of contemporary Shanghai and the Shanghai Film Studios of the 1930s are intercut with a telling of the 15th-century Chinese fable, The Tale of Yishan Island featuring Maggie Cheung as the Goddess Mazu.
Isaac Julien’s The Leopard traces journeys made across the Mediterranean, the stories of the so-called 'clandestini' (illegal immigrants), escaping wars and famines. Julien uses Visconti’s Il Gattopardo (The Leopard) 1963 as a starting point to explore questions surrounding the circulation of human lives amidst a changing social order.