Isaac Julien: Ten Thousand Waves

30 March – 28 August 2018

Ten Thousand Waves is the most recent in a series of major moving image acquisitions by the Whitworth, and was supported through Art Fund’s Moving Image Fund.

Rooted in the Morecambe Bay tragedy of 2004, in which 23 Chinese cockle-pickers drowned off the coast in northwest England,  this cinematic three screen installation explores contemporary experiences of desire, loss and separation. Julien interweaves news footage of the rescue mission with the legend of Mazu the Sea Goddess, protector of seafarers, alongside scenes of the Guangxi province in southern China where the cockle-pickers’ spirits journey back to the ‘Middle Kingdom’, and the rapidly transforming city of Shanghai.

Combining archive footage with fiction scenes shot in China, Ten Thousand Waves alludes to both traditional and contemporary Chinese visual culture. It features leading Chinese artists and performers including actresses Maggie Cheung and Zhao Tao, video artist Yang Fudong, master calligrapher Gong Fagen, cinematographer Zha Xiaoshi and poet Wang Ping, whose verse pays tribute to the ‘lost souls’ of those who died in Morecombe. The film’s score fuses Western and Eastern styles, incorporating music and original score by Jah Wobble and the Chinese Dub Orchestra as well as by the classical composer Maria de Alvear.

Event: Journeys 2018, Refugee Week Takeover
21 June, 6-9pm. Free

As part of our Thursday Lates programme, ArtReach and Journeys 2018 are hosting a unique takeover of our gallery. The event celebrates 20 years of Refugee Week with international sounds, performances and creativity from around the world. The evening will also include new work by DIPACT, ‘Diverse/Digital Innovative Platform for Arts, Communities and Technology/Theatre’, responding to Isaac Julien’s Ten Thousand Waves. For more information on this event, click here.


Caption: Isaac Julien, Maiden of Silence (Ten Thousand Waves), 2010. Endura Ultra photograph 180 x 240 x 7.5 cm. Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London. © Isaac Julien. The Whitworth, The University of Manchester


Further information:
  • Opening hours: daily 10.00 am-5.00 pm  (until 9pm on Thursday)
  • Location: The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, M15 6ER
  • Getting there: By foot: 20-30 minures from Manchester city centre; By Bike: Sheffield stands and lockers (£1 coin, refundable) both available at the gallery; By Bus: 15, 41, 42, 43, 140 – 143, 147 – ask for bus stop nearest MRI, Oxford Road; By Metrolink: St Peter’s Square (plus 10 minutes on the bus or 20 minutes on foot); Train: Oxford Road (plus 10 minutes on the bus or 20 minutes on foot); By Car: On-street parking (maximum stay, 2 hours) on Denmark Road. Nearest car park Cecil Street
  • Admission is free