Curator's Note - Julie Andrée T. May 3, 2012
When Julie Andrée T. was 19 years-old and going through her “punk phase” she traveled to Vancouver BC for what is apparently a rite of passage for young Canadians. Eventually, she made her way south to Seattle for her first visit to our city. When there wasn’t room for her to sleep at the shelter, the person working the desk let her sleep in his car, which turned out to be way better than sleeping in the shelter the next night.
As she returns to Seattle with her image hanging on the side of our building and toting an international reputation as an artist who makes provocative performance art, it would be easy to assume Julie is well beyond her punk phase. While I have no doubt she believes she has moved on, as someone relatively new to her art I think she’s still firmly rooted in being a troublemaker onstage in the best way possible.
I saw Rouge in Vancouver in January 2011 with my friend Erin from Portland. We had had several cocktails at a tiki bar before the show and by the end of the performance I was high as a kite, like I had just been in a rock concert. I fulfilled the cliché of my job and what many people would assume it is like to pick shows on behalf of an organization, where the curator supposedly feels the performance deeply and says, “This show has to come to Seattle.” I really said that, though. Over and over again. Somehow Rouge had the opposite effect on Erin, who ended up stone cold sober from the experience. I think I remember her saying “the show was like a hard slap in the face.” She said she liked it but could only shake her head and mumble when people asked her about it.
This is where writing the curator note gets tricky. Time to assign the artist a category. Maybe indicate the value on her work. Compare her to others. Explain why her way of working is new and why she is so important. Maybe I’m a rube and someone who resorts to explanations of magic and the supernatural to explain what I don’t know but I believe Julie is a shaman and that what she makes is a perfect example of why any of us care about going inside dark theaters at 8 pm. We hope that we’ll find something that defies words and doesn’t fit neatly into categories. That’s where the art magic occurs, when people get hot and bothered and perturbed and excited, and are not sure what they’re watching and don’t want it to stop. Or maybe they do but it gets under the skin, nonetheless.
Julie uses only five words and some dime store props. The rest is artistry. What results is scary magic.