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Drawings and Videos by Julia Oldham

The Carnegie Center for Art and History in New Albany, Indiana is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit, Possumhaw Plant Electrics: Drawings and Videos by Julia Oldham, on display August 27 through October 23, 2010. Julia Oldham was selected as Bernheim Arboretum’s 2010 Artist in Residence [], and during her residency she created a series of videos that combine science fiction and performance. Oldham developed a fictional identity as a technician for Possumhaw Plant Electrics, a company that specializes in measuring radio/electrical emanations from plant forms. Under this guise, she pursued a series of four strange experiments on the arboretum grounds. In her video Radio Prairie, she attempts to locate radio signals in a recently burned prairie landscape; Amplified Colony is a sonic and performative exploration of a carpenter ant nest in a rotting stump; in Radioactive Fairytale she is attached to wildflowers with copper wires and contorts her body to receive outer space signals; and in Reset Oldham attempts to reset the universe by turning cypress knees into electromagnets.

“Can a creature so small experience joy, fear, love and desire?” This question helped guide Julia Oldham in creating a series of delightful performance videos that pay homage to the lives of invertebrates – and these “bug videos” led Bernheim Arboretum to share the creativity of this Brooklyn, New York based artist with our community as their 2010 Artist in Residence. Oldham is a video artist whose performative works explore science and nature. She uses her body as a tool to understand the life cycles and behaviors of insects, to examine the fundamental constants of the universe, and to measure electrical emanations from plant forms. Her work often combines scientific inquiry with elements of experimental movement and dance.

Oldham was raised by “a physicist, an avid gardener and a pack of dogs” in rural Western Maryland, and her childhood was filled with adventures in the woods, bee stings, drawings, and science experiments. She studied art history at St. Mary’s College of Maryland and then received her MFA from the University of Chicago. Oldham lives in Brooklyn, and she also travels around the country to participate in residencies. Her work has been screened/exhibited at Art in General in New York, NY; MoMA PS1 in Long Island City, NY; PPOW in New York, NY; The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, IL; Espaço3 in Lisbon, Portugal; the Dia Foundation at the Hispanic Society in New York, NY; the Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC; and FACT in Liverpool, UK. Visit the artist’s website at for more information about her previous works.


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