Julius Pristauz resists the instinctual thirst for categorisation to dissect constructed gender identity and authority. A co-founder of the GANICA STAUZ collective and Hugo Zorn, he is soon to debut as the co-founder of FONDA exhibition space in Leipzig.
Tell me a bit about yourself and your background
I’m an artist, writer, curator, fag, sissy and whatever else you want to call me - currently based in Vienna.
I grew up in Graz which is the second biggest city here in Austria but it’s rather small and not comparable to the capital. It is a very beautiful place but I had my issues with it. Already during childhood, I was very eccentric. I always liked attention, fashion, barbies, accessories, performances, extravagance.
Eventually, I started dancing HipHop at the age of 7, I was the only boy in my crew for years. I continued to dance for almost 10 years.
At around 14 I considered switching to a fashion high school, but I didn’t dare to do so. I wasn’t out yet and not ready, nor comfortable to be the only boy under a bunch of girls, again - but more because I felt like I would push myself into this gay stereotype which just didn’t feel good at that point.
I always liked the presence of girls, most of my close friends were and still are female/femme-identifying.
I was always writing, mostly poems but also prose or even raps.
At 17 I moved out of home to Vienna. I started working for Magazines and I would attend reading circles. Coming to Vienna, it was my writing that made me think about focusing on art more. So I applied and started studying when I was just 18.
What would you say have been the main influences on your work? Do you think your background has influenced your work at all?
My work as an artist often deals with the construction and gender aspect of identity and authority. Aspects of commerce, fashion and marketing also play into that.
I’m perhaps most influenced by my surroundings, our fast-paced Western society, everyday-life and the reflection of such.
I perceive my artistic practice as a very curatorial one.
Even though I myself am very present in some of my works, I ultimately turn into a tool, into a cliché, used to illustrate whatever I’m trying to communicate at the moment.
For me it is a lot about creating certain images and the following perception of these, the connotations people have with them. I enjoy working with ready-mades, things that most people can recognise, but that we all have a different relationship and history with.
Therefore, I think one’s background ultimately influences everything, whether you want to acknowledge that fact or not.I was lucky to always have very strong women in my life who showed me the importance of independence and emancipation.
I think that’s something that will always shape and inspire me.
Do you perceive trends in the concepts you work with? How do you come to each new creative horizon?
Well, I’m super hard on myself regarding aesthetics and graphics. For me, everything has to look well-done or let’s say, at least, it has to look a certain way that would enable people to understand what the concept is about right away. I don’t think I ever achieve that, but I just care about it a lot.
On the other hand, language is still very important to me. Despite me writing for publishing platforms, I (have) hardly produced any independent written pieces lately. They are always connected with different outlets.
But in general, I often start my projects with a phrase, a sentence or title. After collecting some notes in my phone, I mostly have a very clear idea of where I want to go with it. The process then follows that.
I also tend to steal and borrow a lot from pop culture…
Appropriation is something that interests me a lot and I think it is an important tool in order to create and re-think your own (artistic) identity.
So, you are part of GANICA STAUZ. Can you tell me about the formation of this and what made you decide to form this collective?
GANICA STAUZ is the artist duo consisting of Amar Priganica and me.
We first started working together on a project where we would create a set design for a series of live concerts. We ended up creating a whole room installation, a whole exhibition frankly. So that’s when we realised that this has potential.
It is quite beautiful what the collaboration has turned into. We’ve started to do performative works together recently and I feel like there is so much purpose in what we do. It’s a setting in which I feel most able to experiment and let things happen very carelessly. Our work together is, in a way, very spontaneous and material-based, completely different from what I do alone now. We spend a lot of time reflecting on contemporary aesthetics and mimicking them.
Yet, we then tend to mix these trendy cues with historic pieces of art, may they be literature, classical music or theater.
You also co-founded HUGO ZORN, which has a focus on contemporary art. What instigated or made you start to consider that there was a thirst for a new type of platform exhibiting and distributing contemporary art specifically?
Me and the other editors worked for a different publishing platform here in Vienna before but which we all together decided to leave for various reasons.
It was very clear to us that we needed to continue publishing and therefore supporting the work of young creatives. Hugo Zorn works with open structures, meaning everyone with expertise on a certain topic is welcome to contribute. Its aim is to curate and organise the contemporary condition. Also, we try to bring critique and discourse back into the online world. You will be able to comment on the exhibition views that we share. I’m excited to see how much people will get involved.
Creating our own platform has been so freeing and an amazing process so far. I can’t wait for the first issue to finally go online beginning of next month. We will investigate the topic archivesand the stance of such in the realm of contemporary art…
You are also an operator at NODRAMA, and out of all your work I have seen, my favorite comes from your graphic design. How would you describe a world built in your graphic style? What does your graphic glow emulate?
Well, the latest graphics for NODRAMA were mostly produced by my boyfriend, Philipp, who also photographed me for this feature. We work very closely together on the visual identity of each party – and on our lives in general, I guess. I tend to have very strong ideas about what I want, and he is extremely good at bringing that to life in an elaborate and non-chaotic way.
I’ve never been trained in graphic design and I guess exactly that helps me to work rather intuitively. I think I would describe my graphic style assophisticated trash.Edgy but never not serious - if that makes any sense?
You work in many different realms of the creative industries. For you, is your work across these sectors intertwined or individual?
It is very much connected. Feelings or tendencies of needing to separate the fields are mostly imposed by others. I think it has a lot to do with expectations and a constant need for categorisation that we’re all exposed too. I also find myself wanting to box things or persons way too often. It makes things easier at first but it’s a very problematic mechanism.
Regarding my own practice, this mixture is a necessity almost. I’m still figuring out what floats my boat and working in different media is very liberating and freeing to me. For example, I recently started experimenting more with drag and it’s really important for me to be able to introduce it in different realms, seeing what each context evokes and where I want to position myself in that. Whether it will be in a club or a gallery, it’s always good to see from different angles or viewpoints.
What can we expect to see next from you?
Ahhh, plenty of things I guess:
Despite the projects I mentioned before, I’m co-founding an exhibition space in Leipzig called FONDA which will open this Autumn and where I want to focus even more on realising curatorial projects.
Curating gives me so much joy and I just want to get better every time I get to do it. I want to create meaningful stuff, spaces that resonate with an audience.
Apart from that I really want to dive deeper into my own artistic practice.
Right now, I’m working on my first longer video-piece which I will present at a show in Madrid in September together with new sculptures.
Also, I’m currently learning how to DJ properly so who knows where that might end?! For sure there is more performative stuff coming up!
courtesy JULIUS PRISTAUZ
words KATE KIDNEY BISHOP
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