Julia Clever


Julia Clever is a Brussels-based visual artist raised in the highlands of the industrial Sauerland. She has a background in social psychology and anthropology (RUB) as well as cultural sciences (VUB), audiovisual arts (RITCS) and performance studies (a.pass). In her early years in Belgium, Julia Clever complemented expressionist artistic work on the individual with documentations of group empowerment for different social-artistic organizations in Belgium.

early work: "The Teaser"
Early work from 2000: “The Teaser”

In 2005, Julia Clever conducted her first field research.  Utopian narratives that she collected around East-Flanders for the Art center Nieuwpoorttheater were transformed into an mixed-media installation on the State of Waste festival on Optimism. Julia thus built up grounded theory in artistic form towards her summa cum laude thesis in cultural sciences (about the development of utopianism, from Plato up to contemporary transhumanism).

Julia in "Iraki Ghosts"
Julia Clever and co-performers ready for take-off in “Iraki Ghosts”,  2010

After her studies, Julia Clever worked internationally as a theater maker and actress for several years. The contribution of her grandfathers war desertion-story to Rasems award-winning show “Iraki Ghosts”, that Julia co-created and performed in 2010, was the stepping stone towards her work about embodied war-memories from 2012 on.

Embedded in the artistic research-environment a.pass, Julia started examining warnarratives in contemporary WWII-reenactments.  Her questioning field notes on foundational narratives form the basis of the living archive “Devoir de Mémoire”, last presented in the Brussels War Museum in March 2016.  The archive opens itself up in an adaptive multi-screen installation and mutates between exhibition days in reaction to the public’s requests.

"Devoir de mémoire" under the Airplane sky of the Brussels War Museum, 2016
“Devoir de mémoire” under the Airplane sky of the Brussels War Museum, 2016

Julia Clever transparently shows her methodology as we can hear the questions she is asking interviewees in the recordings.  Evidently she steers the work’s discourse by editing and placing the elements in space. On the other hand she creates maximal autonomy for the spectator in his movements and pace in the installation space. The voice of the author is thus all-encompassing but quite remote in this work. It needs to be assembled by the spectators in their own spatial “soft edit” of the chorographical multilogue.

stills ZSenne
First set-up of the living archive “Devoir de mémoire” in the Zsenne Art Lab in 2015


The position that Julia Clever takes in her latest work in progress, “Trying to catch the wind”,  is an answer to the remoteness of  her personal voice in  “Devoir de Mémoire”‘.

Julia shooting "Nihil Mortui"
Julia shooting “Nihil Mortui”

 In her first art-house film “Trying to catch the wind”, Julia opens herself up as a character and narrator in an intimate portrait of her relation to her German grandfather.  The film follows not only his transformation by experiencing war, but also how this impacts his family.  The aesthetic compositions induce the spectator to evoke connections with the contemporary crisis of European identity politics.

Still Image "Nihil Mortui"
Still Image “Nihil Mortui”

Visual artist