Name: Julia Fryett
Occupation: Curator & Cultural Entrepreneur
Your present state of mind: Clear.
Your favorite qualities in a person: Wit, loyalty, optimism, inquisitiveness.
Your chief characteristic: Action.
Your idea of happiness: Regretting nothing.
Your idea of misery: A world without dumbness.
Your favorite food and drink: Lobster and champagne, preferably together.
Your favorite qualities in an artwork: Anti-disciplinary, pop, ephemeral, uncollectible, useful, difficult, expensive, free. Any or all of the above.
Your heroes in art: Mondrian, Herbert Bayer, Duchamp, Chantal Akerman, Nam June Paik, Franz von Stuck, Lee Miller, Ruhlmann, Richter, Magritte, Bas Jan Ader, Peter Weibel, Corot, Alexander Dorner... the list does not end.
What did you hope to find when you moved to Seattle last year? Did you find it?
I hoped to find space. I lived in New York City for seven years, then London for grad school, and got to a point where I almost couldn’t see the art anymore. The nature and environment in Seattle provides a tranquil backdrop for working in art and tech. I’ve found vast opportunity and psychological space, but I haven’t yet found a permanent home for Aktionsart. I question if the traditional museum/gallery model is relevant today for contemporary art. In many ways, I’m more interested in bringing art to the public, rather than requiring the public to travel to a specific location. But, really, my ideal is an exhibition hall and lab space fused with a global nomadic program.
How have you built collaborative relationships?
By keeping the eyes open and focusing on the big picture. Ego doesn’t matter–it’s more about getting things done and for me, that has always happened through deliberate, strategic partnerships. It’s essential to develop relationships with individuals who have the same vision. Or, if they have no vision, to provide one. I was fortunate enough to have an incredible network in New York, which continues to breed fruitful collaborations to this day. I am constantly seeking new opportunities, and when a door opens, I go through it. If it won’t open, I find a locksmith. Local and global partnerships are crucial in an isolated town like Seattle with a relatively nascent art scene.
What art and artists should we be watching?
I like James Benning’s definition of an artist–“The artist is someone who pays attention and reports back.” Technology is changing what it means to be human, so I pay attention to artists who are paying attention to this. For names, you will find a slew of them in Black Box 2015...wink.
What's next for Aktionsart?
Someone just donated a shipping container! It will be a nomadic exhibition space, transporting art to diverse locations throughout the city. Given the maritime and technological economic stature of Seattle, it is rather fitting that this humble container will be one of the first homes here for tech-based art. Containers also echo the broader mission of Aktionsart, which is to be an experimental “port" that imports and exports new media art. I’m also extremely busy working to build cultural and corporate partnerships for Black Box, which is the first film festival program in Seattle to showcase contemporary artists from around the world who expand the language of cinema through technology.