Julia Tulke is a PhD candidate in the Graduate Program in Visual and Cultural Studies at the University of Rochester, NY and the 2021-2022 Pre-Doctoral Fellow at the Fisher Center for the Study of Gender and Justice at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Her research centers on the politics and poetics of space, with a particular focus on crisis cities as sites of cultural production and political intervention. She maintains a long-standing interest in political street art and graffiti as performative repertoires of protest. For her ongoing research project Aesthetics of Crisis, Julia has documented and examined street art and graffiti in Athens, Greece since 2013.
Her writing in English and German has appeared in City: analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action, Space and Culture, Journal for Visual Culture, Forum Kritische Archäologie, Nuart Journal, and sub\urban Zeitschrift für kritische Stadtforschung, as well as the edited volumes Gegen die Wand: Subversive Positionierungen von Autorinnen und Künstlerinnen (Neofelis, 2021), Political Graffiti in Critical Times: The Aesthetics of Street Politics (Berghahn, 2021), Buffalo at the Crossroads: The Past, Present, and Future of American Urbanism (Cornell University Press, 2020), The Aesthetics of Global Protest: Visual Culture and Communication (Amsterdam University Press, 2019), Greece in Crisis: The Cultural Politics of Austerity (I.B. Tauris, 2017), and Urban Austerity: Impacts of the Global Financial Crisis on Cities in Europe (Theater der Zeit, 2016).
Julia’s dissertation project, “Artist-Run Athens: Mapping Spaces of Critical Practice between Two Crises, 2008-2020,” it is an ethnographic study of spaces, initiatives, and strategies devised by artists and cultural practitioners in the city of Athens during the historical period bounded by the 2008 economic crisis and the 2020 pandemic emergency. During this long decade, the Greek capital became Europe’s symbolic epicenter of crisis, a critical point of convergence for several interrelated situations unfolding across the region: the escalation of sovereign debt and attendant turn to austerity governance, the so-called “refugee crisis,” and the return of neo-fascist party politics. Within and against these urgent conditions, the city witnessed the formation of a dynamic landscape of spaces and projects initiated by artists and cultural practitioners as laboratories for alternative economies of practice, collaboration, and exchange. Such endeavors—which include self-managed exhibition and performance spaces, sites devoted to artistic research, community art projects and other kindred initiatives—and their significance within the wider terrain of the “crisis city” Athens, are at the center of her inquiry. Emerging from a shared sense of necessity, “choos[ing] their own form in answer to their own needs and the needs of the culture as they see it at a particular time,” artist-run spaces are here treated not as singular interventions but part of a relational infrastructure of world-making deeply embedded in the broader currents of Athens’ urban development between the crises.
Julia’s photographs of street art and graffiti have been exhibited at R. Raum für drastische Maßnahmen (Berlin, Germany), Koerber Foundation (Hamburg, Germany), National Hellenic Museum (Chicago, IL), Bank Street Arts (Sheffield, UK), and George Mason University’s Founders Hall Gallery (Fairfax, VA). They have also been featured in several publications, including Nothing Personal Magazine, Blackstreets Journal for Urban Art, Kiosk of Democracy, De Linkse Toekomst, LuXemburg—Gesellschaftsanalyse, und Linke Praxis, and the Lonely Planet Street Art Book.
Julia serves on the International Advisory Board of Nuart Journal and is a former managing editor (2020-21), editorial board member and reviews editor (2015-2021) for InVisible Culture: An Electronic Journal for Visual Culture. In Rochester, NY she has been a member of the core organizing committee for WALL\THERAPY, a public art festival, for which she has programmed two conferences.