In conversation: Julia Lux
Julia Lux is a multifaceted multimedia artist, performer, sculptor, environmentalist, and activist based in Berlin. Lux is a passionate advocate for community building, citizen science knowledge transfer, and eco-somatic activism, with a focus on post-growth and eco-feminism. Currently, focusing on researching post-natural, dark, and queer ecologies, animism, and animalism to rewild and revive our collective mythology and reconnect with the more-than-human worlds.
Insights of an Eco Artist Team
25 de abril de 2023
Would you mind telling us a bit about your studies and background? How did your art career begin?
I have to admit I don't feel that I follow a career. My work in general tends to navigate more and more towards a profound criticism of our common reward system, which the majority of us experience as a career these days. These careers are unfortunately often deeply embedded in the ongoing deconstruction of our earth, social connections and care systems. So it was always clear to me that my work had to be aligned with my core values, which certainly wasn’t the case in many of my jobs or side hustles. So I know for sure that I tried everything to not be an artist, especially as this was not really something to strive for within my family. My family could be described as more of a traditional, middle-class working family and art was not something I was exposed to a lot. But they certainly gave me a down-to-earth, hard-working, humble attitude and, well, my deep connection to nature and the spirits of the forest. My father is a forester and a hunter, and our house was situated at the edge of the town close to lakes and forests, fields and rivers... My childhood was basically a forest fairy tale where birds and frogs were my friends, trees my guardians and everything was one big connected world. I spent all of my childhood collecting stones, bones, twigs and feathers and keeping them safe as the most precious item in the world. Arranging them in little shrines, worshiping invented - and some points, incredibly real - spirits. This ritual of collecting natural, so-called inanimate objects is still a big part of my artistic practice.
I always was a seeker and wanderer. Looking for the answers out there in the deserts, under and within every stone and bone.
I suppose this is what ultimately led me to my studies in environmental science and international forestry.
Currently, you are engaged in various research studies and collaborations about post-natural, post-growth, dark ecology, queer ecologies, ecofeminism, animism, and animalism with the aim to rewild and revive our collective mythology. Can you tell us a bit more about these areas of research?
It’s the quest in forging the connections between all the fields. And ecofeminism as a framework of thinking can work as the ultimate tool for making these connections.
I believe in myths and that we have to rewild ours to get out of our environmental crisis. I do believe that the reasons and solutions lie in the myths we are living up to and that we have to create new ones, whilst rewilding the old ones by talking to our environment with a sense of kinship.
We have to practice a new deep listening and sense of our environment to see the traces, these ghosts of the Anthropocene in the landscapes. Queer ecologies as a thinking framework functions as a catalyst for overcoming sterile and inflexible binary thinking ways which led us into these crises’; nature vs culture, natural vs unnatural, human vs nature – all of these opposites created a line of power and through that created the space for abuse. Concepts like the post-natural and necropolitics help us to understand and unfold these tensions.
My research is therefore often a really delicate, intimate dance between the fields of science and magic. We need the knowledge, but we also need the magic in order to let that knowledge grow into this world. This is art to me.
In your artist statement, you mentioned that you "believe in the power of myths. …believe that we can rewild ancient myths and create new ones which will act like fertilizers for the soils of our future, for peaceful coexistence and transplanetary health." Could you deconstruct this line of thought for us?
Like fertilizer catalyzes processes of nurturing and growing within the soil, myths catalyze processes of transformation, connection and action as they deeply resonate within our psyche.
Therefore I do believe that by being selective and aware of which myths we are telling each other and living up to, we will change the world we are living in.
If the underlying myth is about power, suppression, division and disconnection - and this is unfortunately the one we are living up to currently- we create imbalance and therefore ultimately collapse. The opposite myths are the ones of connection, equality, balance and therefore health. A healthy system is a balanced one.
But I do believe and know from my practice that knowledge remains without effect when it is not integrated in an actual emotional, sensuous, situated way. From face-to-face storytelling, we need to come into face-to-place storytelling. Myths can help us to connect to our stories when we tell them again in connected sensitive communities.
I think we need to go into the woods and grow fur and roots and a sense of belonging and that we have to stop worshiping corporations, products, Stars and money in the way we did once gods and spirits, animals, winds and mountains.
“There is no right living in a wrong system” Adorno said once - well, I’m deeply convinced about the truth of this phrase and therefore that the promises of a possible right living in this system are simply the motor oil for the commodification machine.
This myth is machine oil. The one we need to tell is soil.
This is the power of myths and rewilding them means to get out of our environmental crisis right back into the environment.
How about your creative process? Can you tell me about your typical sets for creating artwork?
My creative process is the maintenance of openness and continuity of working on topics. It’s this magical feeling of being a vessel for something which wants to come in and into the world through you. These ecstatic moments of being a full, overflowing vessel are incredible and truly spiritual in a sense, as it almost feels like being possessed by something. To be honest, I do think that this is what it is in the end. A higher source of existing potential and creativity in the universe which drives people. In the midst of deep, late-night exchanges on love, passion and belonging on a warm Andalusian night, a friend of mine introduced me to the concept of “duende” in flamenco. It is the slow, moment of build-up of the flamenco dancer, whom - dancing the flamenco, with a steady continuity of passion – experiences in a sudden moment a spark that is literally jumping over into his or her own self, possessing the dancing vessel - and this intense moment of passion, authenticity, creativity and strength of force is being created, radiating the space and the audience - everything. Interestingly, this moment or force of “duende” can be also translated into English as “earth spirit”. A spirit which belongs to the earth, and which chooses from time to time to drive into a vessel in order to find its expression and creation.
So this is my practice, becoming a vessel. Practising openness, and authenticity to welcome this creative force.
The title of one of your submitted pieces is Dreamwalking. How did the project come about?
The project is a somewhat wild mixture of my passion for Jungian dreamwork, my passion for hikes in nature and my latest ritual-based experimental, on-site sculptural pieces which I call “Earthdreams”. It’s my experimental approach to wrapping it all up: the dreams, the science, nature, rituals, art and especially, community work.
I think the project got its igniting spark from my research on “vibrant matter” (Jane Bennette) and rituals, but especially from a book which found me at a friend’s house (whom, by the way, is certainly the most skilled hiker guide in Andalusia, Spain). It’s called “Voices of the First Day - Awakening in the Aboriginal Dreamtime” by Robert Lawler.
My artistic approach is very much influenced by a Jungian approach - dreams, subconsciousness and lots of storytelling. So I was already engaged in deep studies of ancient myths to understand archetypal symbols. But this book or better the stories it holds struck me deeply.
In the aboriginal worldview the earth, every location, being and matter carries out a potential of unfolding, a sort of vibrating possibility that imprints itself into the world. Every space has therefore a sort of memory of the metaphysical activity of events, beings and actions carried out in this place. The Aboriginals call this potency the ‘Dreaming of’ a place.
So ‘Dreamwalks’ are a sort of stroll through landscapes with awareness for this vivid vibration of everything. In guided hikes, I invite people to get familiar with this knowledge, the history of a landscape and to practice kinship. To discover the dreams of the earth, but also the nightmares.
During my own trauma and „traum“ work I discovered the importance of walking as a driving force towards healing and integration of trauma. With the help of Jungian techniques like „shadow work“ and „active imagination“, we find the integration of information as we walk through nature and environments - we simultaneously walk through the valleys of our subconsciousness.
These experimental walks and hikes are an invitation to discover who we become when we approach the world as if everything were alive, intelligent, and coming with a story and purpose. Depending on the location, I like to combine this practice with a fire circle at the end, in order to deepen our experience and exchange some stories. The magic of fire is just so powerful as it is a universal archetype of transformation.
You are currently a member of Intercultural Roots and preparing for two desert residencies: one in Atacama, Chile, and one in Spain's Taberna region. What details can you provide about these residencies? What inspired this project?
Becoming a member of Intercultural Roots (GIRIC) was a very conscious step towards my deep longing for helping connected and dedicated communities to grow as well as enable myself to become an enabler.
The non-profit organization of Intercultural Roots stands exactly for that and is a wonderfully open, transparent and authentic organization which has tools at its disposal and much experience in mentoring. I feel honored and empowered to be a part of this community and to feel their trust in my work.
It is therefore with the support of the GIRIC community that I am currently working on my RITUAL pieces, face-to-place storytelling in fire circles and my guided hikes in nature - the “Dreamwalks” - as part of my work as an artistic hiking guide.
This work, as well as my upcoming residencies, are all coming from a place of deep alignment and search for integrity within my research topics on eco-feminism, rituals and landscape art.
Both residencies are situated in a desert area. Deserts being the places from which I derive the ultimate sense of inspiration and feeling of belonging, I feel deeply grateful and extremely excited about both these residencies.
As art and creativity often come from a space of solitude and stillness, I feel that both residencies grant so much space for witnessing these states of mind, and respect these natural dynamics on a profound level.
Deserts will reveal even the smallest of changes to the observer. I chose to apply for these residencies as they both grant a high focus on sustainable ecology, respect for cultural heritage and alternative art production, alongside openness towards playful and joyful exploration.
You are the co-author of Wirtschaft ohne Wachstum!, which critically analyzes the sustainability of the growth paradigm. What does this project entail?
This project was at the roots of my Environmental/international forestry B.Sc. As we touched base with questions like “What is a tree worth?” we understood that we needed a more profound understanding of the global finance and speculation markets. This book was a beautiful outcome in collaboration with many renowned philosophers, economists, researchers, activists and practitioners. Its purpose is basically to deconstruct the (exponential) growth paradigm, show alternative living models and in general: decelerate. One can’t see clearly when spinning too fast.
The book is one of the very important offerings of the post-growth movement and can be understood as a very well-structured guide to unfolding the incredible complexity of markets, money itself and socio- economical paradigms for real change-making.
With your art, what do you hope to convey? Also, what do you think differentiates your approach from others?
I think my artistic approach is and always has been simply a seek for connection. With my inner as well as the outer world. It’s therefore surely just communication - which interestingly got in recent times louder and a more eco-feminist voice. I like this one and try to give it the space it demands. In my sculptural practice, especially my metal sculptures I have a deep dialogue with archetypal wisdom. The metal itself is a very symbolic material and I highly appreciate its inner and outer features. In these sculptural processes, I just help the sculpture to come alive. Most of the shapes of my sculptures are in some way repetitive and come to me in lucid dreams. In my other practices, I just try to push my curiosity for nature in combination with my research on the matter. I try to use waste materials or products, soil. fire, charcoal, basically everything I find and/or can create on-site to sculpt, paint and construct. I try to minimize my impact on resource consumption to a maximum.
I think my approach differentiates me from others as I channel in my work the connections between these -as very antagonistic considered fields - ecology, art, science and spirituality.
Finally, any upcoming exhibitions or collaborations? Are there any new projects you'd like to share?
Yes, absolutely! I’m currently engaged in various collaborative projects around community work and rituals. Which is so exciting and I’m proud that I will work as a co-facilitator of the Nature-Human connection residency program of the community project Intercultural Roots. I highly appreciate their work and practice of networking in a truly respectful, invitive and aware manner towards nature, culture and arts.
In another upcoming exhibition and workshop series I’ll touch on the topics of ecological grief and loss as well as the longing for belonging.
I also recently became a member of the wonderful ecoartspace community which connects ecological artists from all over the world. I find these new connections and the community which is followed up by this so incredibly nurturing.
In general, everything and everybody around me literally screamed for the last time “Community, community”! There is another internal destination voice which is longing for fulfillment and I will follow. I feel blessed to be embedded in a breathing, living tissue of a beautiful body of befriended artists and practitioners all dedicated to change-making, open hearts and minds, the science and the arts and queering ecology and society. I feel simply like a modern witch. My performance-based pieces with burning incense rituals are therefore also touring between different events and festivals this summer.
I also fulfilled myself this year one of my biggest dreams: combining my most favorite environments, the deserts with the arts and therefore have two residencies upcoming, one in the Atacama desert of Chile and one in the tabernas region of Spain.
Deserts are my designated home, here you truly feel the vibration of matter, origin and a sense of kinship and magic and the power of balance.
Know more about the artist here.
Cover Image :
Rituals for the Earth by Julia Lux. Image courtesy of Julia Lux.
Grown up in a rural forestal environment and as the daughter of a forester she feels a strong connection to nature and the living matter around her, as well as her body in space. As a degreed environmentalist and forester herself she finds expression of this connection through her engagment in activist and community groups.
Her artistic passion lies in exploring the abyss of the ‚inner space‘
The spectrum and the shape of feelings.
Through Dance and Perfomance, Light, sculptures and rituals. She is highly driven and inspired by the world of mythology, Alchemy and symbolism.
Her mostly abstract and psychedellic collages, installations and sculptures are evolving all from dreams and visions - they are dreams.
Her work tries to achieve not a separation of matter but a maximum of an etheric, alchemistic mixing of a new whole.
In rituals and ritualized pieces she tries to create connection to the collective archetypes inside of us and therefore a liberation of the persona idea. The „outer“ alchemistic principles can be always transfered to our inner transformation processes.
Being an active member in the post-growth movement, the co-author of „Wirtschaft ohne Wachstum!?“ critically analyzing the sustainability of the growth paradigma, she became an active member of prinzessinnengarten, creating citizen science projects, workshops and events, teaching and discussing issues around the nature culture dychotomy, waste and the limits of growth, materialism and community knowledge. As the co-funder of EDGE neuroscience e.V. she co-created and curated various workshops and events for building the bridge between neuroscience, art and society.
She won prizes for her sculptures and has exhibited at Funkhaus Berlin.
Currently she is engaged and passionate in various research studies and collaborations about the post-natural, post-growth, dark ecology and queer ecologies, eco-feminism, animism and animalism with the aim to rewild and revive our collective mythology.
It is Unification.
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