Assumptions about race, gender and sexuality were questioned by a new generation of artists in the 1980s. Film provided a space in which personal identity could be explored. 

Films showing in this section: 

4:11 - Isaac Julien Territories 1984
4:37 - Alia Syed Fatima’s Letter 1994

Isaac Julien Territories 1984

25 minutes. Collection: Lux 

Isaac Julien’s first work, Territories was a milestone in the development of a black independent film aesthetic. Territories, explained a contemporary press release ‘refers not only to geographical spaces, but to the occupied and controlled spaces of race, class and sexuality.’ Part One considers images of Carnival, Black diaspora culture in Britain and the 1976 Notting Hill Gate riots. Part Two looks in a more poetic manner at personal space, centering on the image of a black gay couple. 


Isaac Julien was born in 1960. He studied at St Martins School of Art and was a founder of Sankofa Film & Video Collective 1983. A maker of short videos, documentaries and feature films which draw on his experience as a black gay artist, Julien’s recent work has increasingly taken the form of installations for the gallery. He was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 2001 and is a visiting lecturer at Harvard University. 

Alia Syed Fatima’s Letter 1994

19 minutes. Collection: Lux 

In a letter written in Urdu to a friend, a woman remembers an event which took place in Pakistan. But she peoples her story with the unknown faces she sees in London’s underground system. ‘Being unhappy in London, you remember other places. When travelling on the East London line or visiting Whitechapel, I would encounter smells that reminded me of India or Pakistan.’ Alia Syed 2001 


Alia Syed was born in 1964. She studied at University of East London and the Slade School of Art. Her poetic films obliquely examine cultural difference and gender issues, often referring to myth and tradition, and set firmly in contemporary London. A collection of her films were exhibited as Jicar by inIVA in 2001.