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Three (The Conservator's Dream)

Isaac Julien
6 mins colour/sepia 16mm to video
Triple-screen rear projection

Three (The Conservator's Dream)

Produced in collaboration with and featuring acclaimed choreographers Bebe Miller and Ralph Lemon along with British actress Cleo Sylvestre, Three explores aspects of desire through dance movements and symbolically weighted images.

'Three is shown as three projected images. The central picture is different from the two identical side images, one of which is flipped so that the flanking pictures frame the center portion, as in certain Renaissance paintings.

Three brings the trilogy (The Attendant, Trussed and Three) full circle by reintroducing a character from the earliest piece, the woman conservator (Cleo Sylvestre), as the protagonist.

It began as a dance entitled Two, which was choreographed in 1986 by New York dancers Bebe Miller and Ralph Lemon, who appear in Julien's piece. Julien came to know them while teaching at New York University in 1996, and their shared interest in the expressive potential of movement on film led to the collaboration. Julien introduces the conservator as the third character in this exploration of the heterosexual relationship between an African-American couple in order to complicate the gender and sexual issues. A series of vignettes and dance sequences follows the tensions and tenderness among the trio. As in The Attendant, Three takes place in venues that are symbolic of white European authority-a museum and an opera house. The viewer initially follows the gaze of the conservator, who looks at the couple with obvious longing, sharing in that experience. At other times, the conservator (in the center picture) looks straight at the viewer while she claps from her place in the opera house, switching roles between spectator and actor. Julien choreographs his camera as one would a dance, with sweeping motions that echo the sensuous moves of the performers. In a departure from the other works in the trilogy, there is brief dialogue between the actors.'

Amada Cruz, from "Introduction" in The Film Art of Isaac Julien, NY 2000

Refer to Victoria Miro Gallery.

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