Taking stock of bloodlines: Bloodstock, Julie Vulcan
Blood binds us all. From bloodlines to blood pacts, it is the common cause we all protect with every beat of our hearts.
We spoke to Julie Vulcan, independent Sydney-sider artist, recently about her involvement in Metro Art’s Deathfest 2.0, and her work Bloodstock, being presented as part of the festival.
“Bloodstock is an installation that will be in a big gallery space at Metro Arts and is really a work that is looking at the idea of blood, and how, obviously, we all have blood running through our veins.”
“Blood is something that’s very emotive and it’s imbued with these sources of power and life, and we recognise it as a symbol of life and we also recognise it as a symbol of death.”
“So, it’s very kind of, primitive, but we don’t really think a lot about it outside of those kinds of mythic terms in some senses. I started thinking a lot about it in terms of, I suppose a personal experience to do with blood transfusion and blood donation. With family and friends who have received amazing blood donations and blood transfusions from these incredible people that exist out there and donate their blood.”
“It made me start to think about, obviously we all have blood, but we have these blood types. Our blood we inherit from our parents, but we may not necessarily have the same blood type as one of our parents.”
“A lot of my work in the past are about questioning how we find human commonality, and how we break down these constructed borders, and silos, and socio-prejudicial borders that we create. How do we look at ourselves as humans and where is our common ground?”
“So, this is how I arrived at Bloodstock. What I was interested in was, when you break it down to the fact that possibly, your family, your family-kin, is maybe not necessarily always your blood-kin. My father needed a blood transfusion at one point, and I have a different blood type than my father, so this made me go “So, he’s my bloodline, but actually, I can’t give him blood”.”
“Then this opens up this question of “Okay, who is giving blood?” and “Who are our blood-kin?” and when you ask that question, you open up this whole other massive landscape of people that exist in the world that you may never meet.”
“So, I suppose at the very basic level the work is about questioning these constructed borders that we create and how do we start breaking them down and being more generous, and being more careful in life, and being more joyous in life.”
After the details of Bloodstock were explained to us in this great detail, we wondered what had inspired Julie to follow the creative pathway that she had to get to the point of creating this work
“I don’t know whether I was “inspired” to “become” a creative. I would say that I have been an artist all my life, and there was never any point in my life where I went “I am going to become a creative”.
“I’ve always engaged in what you would call creative practices, or artistic practices. I’ve always asked big questions, and always been interested and curious in lots of things in the world.”
“For me it’s about the curiosity of who we are in this world, and how we are being in this world and what our relationships are in this world and my responses to that become these questions that create works and how those works unfold or manifest or materialise depends on the question that’s being asked.”
“I suppose it is that thing, you have a question that comes up. So, for me this idea of thinking around blood transfusion, because of my personal experience, and I think this is a really important thing to say around blood donation, when I started researching it, when I became interested in it and interested in these bigger ideas about this larger blood-family.”
“Once I started thinking about these larger questions around blood donation and human commonality and borders, it was then a matter of how I would present that, how to work with this idea elegantly, how do I find an expression of this that can then bring an audience into experience this, and find their own way through that and have their own journey, and create their own thoughts around that.”
“In my work, I try to avoid being too didactic about what I present, I try and find spaces for people to find their own way, and their own thoughts, but I think the really important thing is that there is always space in a work for people to either sit in or be part of or to find their own, or arrive at their own ideas.“
“For me then, it became about reconstructing a kind of room, like a kind of hospital bed room, but everything is made out of PVC plastics, so it’s kind of this idea of membranes and then also it’s evocative of these borders again.”
Given the nature of Deathfest, and the links with finding the positive aspects of the experience of death, we asked Julie if she had had any positive experiences with death as well.
“Death is not something I’ve been unfamiliar with in my life, I would say I’ve been one of these people who’ve kind of experienced friends and family, from quite a young age, you know their deaths or dying, and had to kind of try and understand that, and work that out. I know people who have never lost or have never had a family member or close friend die, right up until their forties.
“So, then It’s not something that scares me, I see it as a bit of a gift, I think death is a gift in a way, for the people that are left behind, the people who were close to this person. I think that person gives them a gift, because it makes them reflect on what is important in life and how best to live your life, and why, maybe, we’re here. It’s these kinds of moral and ethical questions about how we live the best life, and I think that death is one of those things that kind of provokes that question.”
Finding it time to part from our interview with Julie we asked for some inspiring parting words.
“We’re in a really tricky situation in the world right now, and I think it can make people feel really disempowered, and really despondent and I think that we need to draw from that something positive and hopeful and joyous.”
“I think that part of that is about really, those moral and ethical questions, and how do we be the best person we can be, while we are here on this world, and how do we help other people be the best people they can be?”
What: Deathfest 2.0: Bloodstock
Where: Metro Arts Gallery Level 2
When: 26 October – 3 November 2018
How Much: Free
Find out more about Julie Vulcan: