Julie Tolentino Wood

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What Is My Work About? 

My practice is informed by multiplicity and endurance. As post-modern dancer and durational performance-maker influenced by the lived experience of AIDS activism, Eastern traditions, and caregiving, I create one-to-one works, objects, elixirs through installation embedded with text, sound and movement. I rally between personal and political philosophies of embodiment and ecstatic provocations as a queer, gender-sensitive, mestiza.Tender materials such as golden thread, fluids, smoke, and scent reflect and highlight the nature of an increasingly precarious life. My work aims to unearth the often hidden-to-ourselves intersections of class, modes of resistance and willfulness of desire by engaging with temporality, intimacy and self-reflection.My durational approach considers age and archive as meditations built upon historic, radical and embodied knowledge culled from other learning institutions: collaborative exchange, critical engagement, solo tenacity and risk.

Artist Statement

*1* I create performance, imagery and installation to explore presence and direct action mediated through the consideration of bodies, experience and temporal spaces that span the tender, abject, haptic or empty in-between. Applying a highly visual and physical-yet-sensitive care to image making, movement development with the political, I explore disciplines and gather technique through a corporeal lens and hands-on approach.

Without the traditional spectacle of a stage performance, I create installations as spaces infused with coded imagery, performative objects and prompts offering charged affective settings for both the viewer and performer. My works aim to seed, provoke and uncover the complexities of being in relation to another. Like meditation, a “thinking through making” process presents risk and offers a bold yet self-conscious effort towards encountering communication, power, exchange with a tribute to change and otherness.

*2* In the duet, HONEY, Stosh Fila, the Giver, crafts hundreds of “golden tear-shaped globes of honey” that fall into my open mouth. Using the tears’ trajectory as a score, I swallow and allow the excess to overflow onto my skin. The insistent honey slowly disrobes and exposes my moving, resistant yet adaptive body over the five-hour duration – referencing and communing with the history of radical women in performance including us: a person of color and a gender-queer performance partner. The indelible acts between the Giver-Receiver are both a relentless yet confined dance, a charged duet that captures time while also clutching at and pointing to time’s own resonance. The honey’s demand enhances the Receiver’s bodily challenge: an always-skyward throat; multiple adjustments of backward flexing; and guttural ecstatic motion and sound accompany the excess, the silencing, limits and potential of both the Giver and Receiver exorcising release. Audience is invited to view from a distance or come close. HONEY is performed in museums, gallery and conference contexts. Most notable was the NYU Abu Dhabi performance held at the original campus in the beginning of 2014 that included the creation of a film with two gifted Film and Media students. Following the tour, I was invited to install a permanent work with Fila at Commonwealth & Council. *3* FUTURE GOLD is the smuggled remnant of the AD event. Encased in glass and steel and permanently embedded into the gallery: Yemeni honey, saliva and suspended gold string replaces a concrete block that originally confined the window space. *4* is a short clip of HONEY performed outdoors in Los Angeles in 2010 and *5* reflects the slow evolution of this installation with the addition of the steel A-frame tripod which now completes the installation.

Durational performance in my practice is employed not as “merely enduring an action”, but as a committed practice of attention, physicality and care. I created twenty-four hour performances *6* and other one-to-one movement-based installation which forged conversations between artist’s bodies, audience agency and the institution. I contrast the intangible captured in the series of 500 photographs “Untitled Wind” *7 * with tense materiality and the clutch of proximity as in“Stringhead” *8* or the offer of handmade scent, oils or touch as an extension of a body.

*9* Aligning with the risk and reward of potentiality, my practice expands by producing events, objects, and texts comprised of nearly invisible sensual structures: Improvisation as a form of (il)legibility and cultural language. *10* In “SHATTER + CENTER”, I invited four noise artists, five visual artists and two dancers to create a labor-intensive libertine five-hour work performed in and for Dutch inventor and artist, Cocky Eek’s inflatable structure, Sphaerae, allowing me to deflate and inflate the space during the event using zippers.

“RAISED BY WOLVES” at CW&C was a significant event that deepened my bonds to the LA artistic community. This show developed over time as a way of integrating the lives and wounds of the gallery’s past with my own, reflected in fifty live performances,

and a multi-tiered exhibition of installation, objects, ephemera, and fifty live performances. “Smoke of Future Fires” *11* is a tribute to an artist who passed away in the space, and the time-keeping “Hole” *12* was drilled to offer light into the once-concealed and burnt-out stairwell. Reanimating the space, a staircase composed of single gold-threads suspended in mid-air and was anchored by lead fishing weights, “Sky Burial”, which juxtaposed an etched conversation between two writers on the exposure of shame in “Echo Valley” *13*. Each afternoon, performances were created for intimate-size audiences. “Raised By Wolves” viewers were invited to each shuffle, cut and layout a collectively drawn spread of cards. Drawn to Richard Montgomery’s melancholic poetics: “The people you love become ghosts inside of you and like this you keep them alive”, each card represented one of 16 beloved artists who offered scores for me to “master” in advance. These discreet works built by each audience, were immediate, labor-intensive and customized. Enchanted by the audience’s collectivity, the sheer number of performances in a day and the artist-to-artist transference, I also appropriated the visual artist’s obsession with glowing perfect light by only performing during the daytime period to highlight the precarity and the reality of the moving, aging body. The body and it’s memory and trace, was doubly represented by smoke, resin and scent. These works are grounded by a central white shag carpet – adorned with a gilded ceramic cat *14*. Hidden and in clear view, details represent and are reminiscent of my echoing youth. Like a multi-faceted, breathing cipher, my practice is composed of oft-invisible structures to offer transport, renewal, possession, potential.

In “It Will All End In (Ultra-Red) Tears” *15*, I examine protest and a personal sense of restraint in the act of mourning – growing up during the assignation of Harvey Milk in 1978 and from the advent of AIDS. The 10’x10’ installation is a dense red environment. Inside the structure, adorned with sutured mouths, the dance methodically shifts, like two chess pieces. Releasing the mouths, we engage in a charged kiss. The visuality of the blood is “absorbed” by the red lighting leaving only the affective exchange of fluids and consent. This is accompanied by longing protest cries of Abby Lincoln, remixed with punk singer, Carla Bozulich and the voice of Fred Moten. In “evidence”, *16* I endeavor my voice as a brown artist/activist reciting a melancholic list of influential loved ones, living and lost for the 25th Anniversary of Day With(out) Art 2014.

In the last three years, my explorations have led to expanded invitations into exciting forms of art-making – new works on paper, glass works and suspended threads : “Sling” *17; with Otherwild & Bullhorn Press’ collectors edition INITIATION, a 9”x12” work for the letterpress entitled “Trust Me, I’m The One” *18*, featuring hand-sprayed gold dust. I was invited to apply my practice to a social justice project through YBCA In-Community with SF Larkin Street Services one-year long initiative this year, as lead artist for an intensive workshop entitled “The Magical Order Of…” with a cohort of transitional-aged artists-at-risk. This culminated in a video project with video maker and collaborator, Kadet Kuhne. An important goal to shift my work’s geographical focus from Europe to Asia was realized in this period with performance in Abu Dhabi and a collaborative movement exploration in the sand dunes near the Empty Quarter as well as supported research to Myanmar, Singapore and the Philippines plus a commissioned performance for a visual artist at Manila Contemporary “You Have So Much Potential” and a performance and artist’s talk at Green Papaya in Quezon City deepening bonds through familial and artistic comrades.

In my most ambitious conceptual/live work to date, “The Sky Remains The Same”, I boldly combine my crafts – offering my body as an archive, a reader and interlocutor by inviting five male artists to endow a work into/onto me. The “act of archiving” is a time-based project that mingles our lives – replete with a lifetime contract – with the offer to create an artwork that may be entirely different from the original. Completely unlike the conditions of re-performance I prefer to focus on the critical artist-to-artist kinship (including its resistances) as possibly the most potent relationship of influence in an artist’s career. “The Sky” with artist Ron Athey resulted in a seemingly traditional performance however we engage the archiving action live and maintain unusual remnants of the work along with photographs *19*.  Artistic duo Lovett/Codagnone endowed three performance works resulting in the form of a bloodline tattoo, a two channel video, and a group durational work with interchangeable performers. A photographic diptych from “The Sky” will be included in a major four-museum group show including MOCA, the Bronx Museum touring through 2016. “The Sky” is a life-long project engaging three more beloved artists from LA, NY and London.

The anxious, sensate body, and its palpable non-monogamous, fail-baiting markers, is my academy. As in this sample of work, I travel back and forth through time using my work and the work of others to explore, research, protest.

Gender, race, sex, loss, access, age, and the lived experience ‘insist and influence’ and ‘incite and inform’ the movement-based, intimate spaces I aim to offer as host, comrade, and provocateur. *20*

“Where we find happiness teaches us what we value rather than simply what is of value.”

― Sara Ahmed, The Promise of Happiness





“John”, Visual Aids Postcard From The Edge, Luhring Augustine, NY, NY
“Trust Me, I’m The One” INITIATION: Collector’s Edition Print, Otherwild/Bullhorn Press, LA, CA
“evidence”, ALTERNATIVE ENDINGS,Visual Aids’ 25th Anniversary Day With(out) Art; International
“When Queens Collide” as Witch of Ensor, film performance with Tyler Matthew Oyer, PAM, LA, CA
“The Magical Order Of…” SF Yerba Buena Center for the Arts In-Community Project with Larkin Youth Services, Alter Space, The Luggage Store and The Tenderloin National Forest, San Francisco, CA
“Shatter & Center”, performance, AxS Festival, Pasadena, California
“(Process)ion”, performance, West of Rome’s Church of the Epiphany, LA, CA
“The Sky Remains The Same: Archiving Athey’s Self-Obliteration #1”, print, West of Rome benefit
“The Sky Remains The Same: Archiving Lovett/Codagnone’s Weighted, performance, UCLA, LA, CA
“Real Life Awaits”, performance, UCLA, LA, CA
“Future Gold”, installation, Commonwealth & Council, LA, CA
“Honey” video, NYU Abu Dhabi, installed at Commonwealth & Council, LA, CA
“Workstudy: drive your plow with Robert Crouch and Stosh Fila, SFAI, SF CA
“Candidate”, performance with Walter Dunderville, Moore College, Philadelphia, PA
“Grow Room” USC Ecotone – performance workshop, Joshua Tree, CA
“Medium”, performance collaboration with Faith Colloquia, Aaron Turner, Night Gallery, LA, CA
“Honey” with Diana Puntar at Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CA
“Queerness is…” Incognito 14, Santa Monica Museum, Santa Monica, CA
“Queerness is…”Momenta Art Benefit, New York, NY
“Honey Standing”, performance, NYU Abu Dhabi campus, Abu Dhabi, AD



“The Divine Immortal Fakery & Vulgar Smoke Apothecary featuring the LAYMAN’S BITTER GOLD ELIXIR, Reanimation Library, High Desert Test Sites, Joshua Tree CA
“Ghost Point (PC 8) – A Performance in a Glass Stage”, sculpture, performance object, LACE Auction “UNTITLED WIND”, HDTS postcard series, Joshua Tree, CA
“Raised by Wolves” Fifty performances, Commonwealth and Council, LA, CA
“Echo Valley, wall text, sculpture, Commonwealth and Council, LA, CA
“Smoke of Future Fires, sculpture, performance, Commonwealth and Council, LA, CA
“Hole”, sculpture, performance, Commonwealth and Council, LA, CA
“Sky Burial”, sculpture, Commonwealth and Council, LA, CA
“Double Happiness or Nothing”, performance, book, flags, High Desert Test Sites, Nothing, Arizona
“The Unsung, The Malcontent, The Weirdos, The Invisible, The Non-Monogamous, The Enduring, The Beloved Wretched of the Earth – I Want to Give You Devotion”, performance installation, Install WeHo, West Hollywood, CA
“Ghost Point (PC 8) – A Performance in a Glass Stage”, sculpture, performance, LACE, LA, CA
“On Our Backs: After Raised by Wolves “ installation/performance, Within, Cypress College, CA
“Sling”, sculpture – Within, Cypress College, Cypress, CA

2013 (con’t)

“Candidate”, with Kate Valk & Jim Fletcher, New Museum, NY, NY
“The Sky Remains The Same: Archiving Lovett/Codagnone’s FOR YOU” – blood line tattoo with Stephanie Tamez; New Museum, NY, NY
“The Sky Remains The Same: Archiving Lovett/Codagnone’s CLOSER: – video; New Museum, NY, NY
“The Sky Remains The Same: Archiving Lovett/Codagnone’s WEIGHTED” – performance,
Performa ’13 New Museum, NY, NY
“Honey-Standing”, performance, Theaterworks Singapore
“Honey”, PSi19 Conference, Stanford, CA
“The Sky: Archiving Athey’s S-O#1”, print Fire in Her Belly, Maloney Fine Arts, Los Angeles CA
“I Want To Give You Devotion – for Ellen” memorial offering for Ellen Cantor, Abrons Art Center, NY, NY
“Raised By Wolves”, performance, Commonwealth & Council, LA, CA
“Sky Burial”, installation, Commonwealth & Council, LA, CA
“Hole”, sculpture, Commonwealth & Council, LA, CA
“Smoke of Future Fires”, sculpture, Commonwealth & Council, LA, CA
“Echo Valley”, installation, object, Commonwealth & Council, LA, CA
“The Foxes”, performance, Move-Again, performance, Honor Fraser Gallery, LA, CA
“SuperIntense”; The Flying Circus Project, Rangon, Myanmar
“Lola” audio installation, End Of Times, Concord Gallery, Los Angeles, CA



“Eye Witness “ video, The Untouchables, Southwark Gallery London, UK
“Honey” (video loop) – Women’s University – Visual Arts Department; Manila, Philippines
“The Sky Remains The Same: Archiving Athey’s Self-Obliteration #1” Participant/Invisible Exports at Allen St Studios, NY, NY
“Ode To Dead Flowers, Pt 1”, performance, Move-In, Honor Fraser Gallery, LA, CA
“El Sobrante/Sun Children”, performance for camera, High Desert Test Sites, Pioneertown, CA
“Honey Standing, performance, NYU Women and Performance Conference, LA, CA
“You Have So Much”commissioned solo for Maya Munoz, Manila Contemporary, Manila, PI
“Queerer Than Thou” sculpture, Queer Show, Manila Contemporary, Manila, PI
“Stringhead” performance, Green Papaya Gallery, Quezon City, Philippines
“Untitled Wind”, performance, Mullholland Derive, LA Roadshow, LA, CA



“It Will All End in (Ultra-Red) Tears”, performance, LACE, lA, CA
“A True Story About Two People”, performance, NGBK Gallery, Berlin, Germany
“Honey Standing” Perform! Now! Human Resources, Francois Ghebaly, LA, CA
“I Defy You Stars”, performance, Joshua Tree Art Tours , The Palms, Wonder Valley, CA
“Honey” in Dejecta, Projecta Vaginal Davis and Jonathan Berger, MOCA, LA, CA“A True Story About Two People”, performance, Spill Festival at London’s Shunts Vaults, UK



“Untitled for Tom” with VOLUME * Perform! Now! Chinatown, Los Angeles, CA
“Cups”, History of Ecstasy – performance with Athey/Fila, Madre Museo, Naples, Italy
“Untitled Performances” – Pact Zollverein, Essen, Germany
“Cry of Love”, performance, House of World Cultures, Berlin, Germany
“Led/Lead” with Aliza Shvarts (THE SKY archive project), Creon Gallery, NYC

2010 (con’t)

“Eye Witness” 12 min video with Abigail Severance, Outfest, LA, CA
“Cry of Love” performance, Extreme Performance Series, UCLA, LA, CA
“Echo Valley”, chair installation in UCLA Performance Studies at Broad Art Building
“Stringhead Mohave – Split Rock”, performance for camera, Joshua Tree, CA
“Stringhead”, performance and screening of Eye Witness, Pieter Performance Space, LA, CA



“Honey-Supine”, performance, LACE Gutted Benefit Series, LA, CA
“Cry of Love”, Installation You Belong To Me, Riverside, CA
“The Sky Remains The Same” with Ron Athey at Remy’s Gallery, LA, CA
“Stringhead” duet with Ron Athey , Remy’s Gallery, LA, CA
“For You”, performance, NGBK Gallery, Berlin, Germany



“A True Story About Two People”, performance, Participant, Inc., Performa ’05, NYC, NY
“For You”, performance, Participant Inc, NY, NY


“Point of Diminishing Return”, The Kitchen, New York, NY and SOMA Arts, San Francisco, CA


“Mestiza” – Site-Specific – installation, performance, Dance Exchange Birmingham, UK


“The Bottom Project” – installation performance, commissionThe Kitchen, New York, NY
“Mestiza-Que Bonitos Ojos Tienes”, performance, Greenroom, Manchester UK and Tramway, Glasgow, Scotland


“Butterfly Box #1”


“Marks of My Civilization” – duet with Sondra Loring at St. Mark’s Danspace



Art Matters Research Grant, YHF/Tides Foundation, CHIME


Pact Zollverine Residency

The Field

ArtsAdmin Bursary and Residency

Franklin Furnace Fund

Arts International

Franklin Furnace Fund



“Unbecoming Archive and the Anachoreography of Julie Tolentino” Infinite Record at MIT Panel with Josh Lubin-Levy, 2014
Guest Artist BARD Curatorial Performance, 2014
Guest Artist UCLA Center for Performance, 2014
“Her Body is An Archive” at Radical Archives at NYU Panel with Debra Levine and Tara Hart, 2014
“How Do You Map The Sky?” Panelist with Lia Gangitano, Debra Levine, Sarah Shulman, Travis Chamberlain and Josh Lubin-Levy at the New Museum, 2013
Guest Lecturer, WAC, UCLA World Arts & Cultures, 2009-2014
Guest Artist USC Curatorial Practices, 2013
NYU Visual Cultures, Art Studio, 2012
UC Sta Barbara, 2012
USC Media Arts and Practice Visiting Guest Artist, 2012
Studio 303 Canada 2009-2012



NYU Performance Studies with Ron Athey, 2011
SVA Visual Arts, 2011
Performance Matters: Guest Workshop Leader with Ong Keng Sen, Janine Antonini 2010
Performance Matters Panelist with Ron Athey, 2010
CSU San Bernadino, 2009
Otis Parsons, 2010
Praxis Mohave, 2008
Feral Studios, 2009-present



Art Forum, December, ALTERNATIVE ENDINGS, evidence, video, 2014 (with A Severance)
“Julie Tolentino’s Queer Mestiza: Unsettling a White Western Order of Subjectivity and Belonging,” Elisavet Pakis, Contemporary Theatre Review, March 2014
“The Body as Archive: Will to Re-Enact and the Afterlives of Dances”
André Lepecki, Dance Research Journal, 2010
“Notes on the Touch and Reciprocity of Feminist Performance Art: Julie Tolentino’s “A True Story About Two People” R Summers – UCLA Center for the Study of Women, 2010
“A True Story Review”, Women and Performance, Debra Levine, 2008
Movement Research Interview by Trajal Harris, 2011






I AM THE 29th BATHER – Jennifer Doyle

A TRUE STORY – Tim Etchells







1982    SF State University Undergraduate
1987    Scholarship: Jacob’s Pillow, Ailey


Co-editor, Provocations in The Drama Review, MIT Press, since 2011
Guest contributor:  Pleading in the Blood – Ron Athey’s monograph
Guest contributor:  ITCH Journal
Guest Artist: Emergency Index 2011/2012 editions and Contemporary Performance Network catalogue.

She hosts customized one-to-one artist workshops in Joshua Tree, California: Praxis Mohave at Feral House * Studios – a low-impact, solar powered off-grid work / live space.

Tolentino is a certified Aquatic Bodywork practitioner in Watsu®, Waterdance® and Fluid Presence®, as well as Shiatsu, Thai Nuad Bo Rarn, and Western therapeutic modalities.

Projects/Involvements/Appearances/Collaborations with:
Meg Stuart, Tim Etchells and Noemie Solomon/Photomusee de la Danse, Ibrahim Quarishi, Helen Paris and Leslie Hill, Margarita Guergue, Amy Pivar, Ori Flomin, Rob Roth, Jennifer Monson, Mark So, Diamanda Galas, Madonna, Lois Weaver, Maya Munoz, Stosh Fila, Ling Quisimbing-Ramilo, Barbara Hammer, Abigail Severance, Carmelita Tropicana and Ella Troyano, Robert Crouch, Franko B, Lovett/Codagnone, Catherine Opie, Rodarte, Alex Segade, Elana Mann, Juliana Snapper, Los Angeles People’s Microphony Camerata, Kadet Kuhne, Nicholas Duran, MataNoise, Ryan Tacata; 1990-2002 David Rousseve/REALITY Dance Theater  •Senior Member, Repertory Teacher & Tour Manager; 1992-1998 Ron Athey & Co. •Co-director, producer and performer with Ron Athey & Co.