Day 17 | Julia Oldham

My work is an attempt to enter the mind of the invertebrate. I want to understand what it feels like to engage in their behaviors, movements and rituals. So I intensely study invertebrates—I read about them; I watch videos of their movements; I watch live creatures in the wild and in zoos; I talk to beekeepers and scientists. I contemplate the odd gestures of bugs and try to bring them into my world.

Invertebrates engage in enthusiastic, although often inelegant, dances for purposes of mating and communication. Humans are similarly inclined to dance in order to communicate an idea or invite sex; and so I use dance to bridge species. I translate invertebrates’ rituals into choreography that I perform, unpracticed, in front of the camera. During my engagement in these dances, a strange system emerges as I try to remember which movement to perform next. The dance begins to feel oddly intuitive, but never graceful. The resulting videos are concerned with playful anthropomorphization; they are meditations on the fantasy that humans and invertebrates have a shared set of experiences, accessible through awkward, hybridized dance steps.

Scuttle, 2006 – TRT 1:23 mins


Julia Oldham was born in Frederick, Maryland in 1979 and grew up in both Maryland and New Hampshire. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Art History at St. Mary’s College of Maryland in 2001, and a Master of Fine Arts at the University of Chicago in 2005. Recent exhibitions include solo shows at The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, IL; The University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA; Art in General in New York, NY; and Macalester College in St. Paul, MN. Her work has been supported by the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs; Artadia, the Fund for Art and Dialogue; and Art in General in New York. She currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

Julia Oldham – Brooklyn New York

2 thoughts on “Day 17 | Julia Oldham

  1. She definitely resembles an insect, especially with the sounds. The movements are very unusual which helps add to the creepiness.

  2. Before reading the description, I felt like she resembled an insect. After reading that she was attempting to engage in the movement, rituals and movements invertebrates, I thought she was successful. The camera angles and abrupt movement makes the viewer feel like you’re watching a bee struggling against a window. All in all it’s an affective short video.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s