Interview week: JULIACKS

Post Author:

Anna Barie is a musical expatriated Brooklynite living in Lyon for love. This is her take on the local arts and music scenes.

JULIACKS is a 26 year old American artist and former Fullbright fellow currently in the Post-Diplôme program at L'Ecole Nationale Superieure Des Beaux Arts in Lyon, France. She works multilaterally writing and illustrating comics, creating intermedia performance installations, and producing collaborative film and theater. Her graphic novel, Swell, was just made into a well-reviewed theatrical production in NYC.

Architecture Of An Atom is her latest “trans-media” project, which is simultaneously a narrative film about a group of adult children who live in an abandoned pool in France and also an ambitious series of collaborative films, performances, sculptural and comic works that so far span Finland, Sweden, France and the U.S..

Gotland and the Infinite Whistle from Juliacks on Vimeo.


JULIACKS is a container for all of the artwork that I do, in that sense JULIACKS is raw, layered-in time/memory/space/ideas, psychological, dark dark, heavy matter, emotional, many things at once, close to your face, perhaps leading you on adventures to abandoned spaces, dense forests, textured viewpoints.

You've moved around quite a bit already in your life. Where is home, and are you ever homesick for a particular place?

Right now I'm trying to make Lyon home. I like this quote by Joseph Roth, and I don't think I could state the complexity of “un-heimlichkeit”, or homeliness better– “I have no home, aside from being at home in myself. Wherever I am unhappy is my home. I am only ever happy abroad. If I leave myself even once, I will lose myself. Therefore, I take great care to remain within myself.”

What do you like about travel and living abroad?

The adventure, the risk, the friendships, the learning, the feeling of not knowing.

And do you ever consider yourself out of place anywhere?

Each time moving is an awkward transition with administrative, transportation and system based structures. As far as I know, countries are places where the people living within its borders agree to a certain kind of logic, or as an alien you may say ill logic. One must decipher and understand the minute and detailed patterns of behavior, and thus culture. I know [at the start] I will get lost in the street, the paperwork and the language.

Page from JULIACKS' graphic novel, Swell

In Swell, you explore themes of death, memory and grief. Are there similar motifs in Architecture Of An Atom?

Yes and no. It won't be as close of a study upon those themes. This story is more about the construction of language, group dynamics and fantasy. It's more about totalitarianism, ancient introspection and archetypes. Our only certainty is change, so you can be certain of loss as well.

What are the benefits to collaboration and improvisation in filmmaking ? For some reason Harmony Korine comes to mind for me in your approach to Architecture Of An Atom. Are you influenced by him or other directors who use this kind of nonlinear technique?

The film will parlay/dance between having scenes that are improvised collaborative situations up to chance and having very predetermined scenarios. When we shoot with 16 mm or 35 mm film, everything will be decided ahead of time, yet there is room to create frameworks that have unforeseeable results. Collaborating with other artists allows the ideas to be seen from another perspective. I like contrast, the pushing and pulling of collaboration.

Yes, I'm influenced by directors that work without formal Ruben Ostlund, Mike Leigh, and John Casavettes.

At the same time I'm very much into high-construction directors such as Fritz Lang, Mika Rottenberg, Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Vera Chyrtilova, Tarkovsky, Fellini. I just saw Nina Menkes' work – she kind of combines both ways…I like Harmony Korine and his audacity.

Photo by JULIACKS and Amy Johnson, still from Rome and the Infinite Whistle

How long do you imagine this project lasting?

Within the story line there are two parallel story-structures – the main storyline taking place in France and the stories of other worlds. The stories of these 'other worlds' are a series of short films/performances, “The Infinite Whistle” shot in different places in the world and combined with language and text surrounding the sculpture and character of the Infinite Whistle based upon the Venus of Willendorf, performance artists from the 1970's and the local collaborators experiences and input.

The scores for all of these 'other worlds' are made with musicians from those places in live performances that involve the audience in recreating a group sound scenario that contrasts and constructs the conflict once again. Works in themselves that will be integrated into the main feature storyline.

This series could go on forever and for now I envisage another five years? I would like to go to Thailand, Australia, Benin, Martinique, Colombia, Korea, Beirut, Marfa and Mexico to start with. All that is gonna take a lot of time and flight tickets.The main storyline – shot and set near Lyon, France will commence shooting this August.

When do you feel a work is completed?

Something in between finding satisfaction and something metaphysical of seeing the work as being apart from yourself, without your ability to control it or create within it any longer. It operates alone.

Do artists have a responsibility to have a message in their art?

No, but they would be silly to not realize that the thing or experience they are making is communicating something and to think about it a little bit, but not thinking is also a choice that is valid. Yeah, so no. In fact, being too message oriented can kind of ruin it, you know.

What is the role that DIY communities have had in your work?

I would say that DIY communities, and their modes of being have shaped so many things in my life and art. The roots [of comics] are in DIY. I started making comics in Pittsburgh and got involved with Unicorn Mountain, a comics and music anthology. Then, I was also in school with DIY art thugs Jacob Ciocci and Fereshteh Toosi, and visionary wacky peoples such as Lowry Burgess, Suzie Silver, and Pat Bellan Gillen who aren't afraid to be weird, big and out there.

Architecture Of An Atom will premiere July 2014.



My fellow Post-diplômes like Monica Restrepo, who is trecking it out here all the way from Colombia.


ARTISTS Riikka Kuoppala and Kirsi Heimonen
ART SPACES Ptarmigan and Muu


CRACK! Comics Festival
This festival is inspiring as something DIY, self sustaining and very good to the artists who exhibit there. Everyone should go – it's June 21-24 in Rome. Valerio Sciatto, an architect, is one of the main organizers and also helped co-produce Rome and the Infinite Whistle.


ARTISTS Peter Larsson, Tamara Henderson, Jeannine Han, and Dan Riley, and old friend Austin English and his DIY PUBLISHING thang, Domino Books.