Julie Wills (www.juliewills.com) in an interdisciplinary visual and performance artist whose works feature physical hardship or brutality as a stand-in for, or guide to, psychological hardship or brutality. In addition to her individual studio practice, Wills has worked since 2004 as one of four members of The Bridge Club collaborative (www.thebridgeclub.net).
My interdisciplinary works in drawing, sculpture and installation, video and live performance reference the physical landscape in their visual form, but are motivated by internal landscapes of human psychological or emotive experience. My works frequently use the physical, geographic landscape as a metaphor for the human body; this landscape is often barren, scarred or misused, and the remnants or traces left upon the landscape give visual form to what has been done by history to the human psyche.
A recent installation titled Small Wood creates a suspended, still landscape environment to reference a physical and psychological place of waiting. The title refers to a grove of trees outside the entrance to Auschwitz, where prisoners arriving by train would wait before entering the camp. While the materials used here refer to a different geographic place and context, the installation of tumbleweed, natural elements and found and altered materials acknowledges what the landscape has witnessed, in terms of human occupation, experience and memory.
An ongoing series titled Marie Antoinette in America comprises performance, video, and photographic works set within or referencing the open landscape. Based loosely on a variety of 18th century schemes to build a home-in-exile in the U.S. for the fleeing French royal family, the series imagines that Marie Antoinette has escaped the French Revolution and settled in the American west. I perform the character wearing a tumbleweed wig, as if she herself has blown in on the wind. Each work in this series portrays the character’s attempts at livelihood or survival and explores the roles available to her based on gender, class, and skill set. The harsh landscapes in each work imply isolation and make her societally-based efforts at survival all the more inept.
These two examples, like my other and ongoing works, explore the harsh meeting of what is longed for and what is expected, permissible or possible within the confines of history and social or cultural expectation.