Julianne Swartz

Julianne Swartz, Affirmation, 2006 

Julianne Swartz, Affirmation, 2006 

Julianne Swartz’s (b.Phoenix, Arizona, USA) work requires participation from other people. It is about the magic and intimacy of ‘getting connected’. Scientific instrumentation has evolved a great deal since the sixties, but the human desire to use technology to be ‘in touch’, even in an immaterial way, remains the same. 

There are no touchy-feely soft toys in Swartz’s work – she has a preference for fibre optics and plumbing plastics – but the whole point is that even these unaesthetic materials can be made to sing when animated by the human desire to transcend barriers and make contact with other people.

Swartz’s insistence on taking us ‘backstage’ undermines our defences and opens up the potential for intimacy. Just as her clinically technological materials nevertheless evoke the absent but warm and determined person who installed them into their playful, disruptive or transgressive patterns, so her preferred media of sound and light suggest, in their lack of materiality, an absent source, a presence like the sun, somewhere else.

The work has humour, a sense of fun, conjures both emotion and sentiment. Despite its lightness of touch, its legacy is that through disorientation we acquire the potential for re-orientation within a different understanding of our social and structural environment.

Julianne Swartz at Liverpool Biennial 2006 

Affirmation, 2006

Commissioned by Liverpool Biennial 2006
Courtesy the artist and Josee Bienvenu Gallery
Exhibited at Tate Liverpool

Supported by

The Henry Moore Foundation
Esmee Fairbairn Foundation
The National Lottery through Arts Council England