• Pentasomnia
    Julia Phillips

Julia Phillips, “‘Pentasomnia’ storyboard for ‘Institution’ video,” 2024. Digital drawing. Courtesy the artist

Pairing architecture with psychoanalysis, Pentasomnia represents how architecture appears in dreams and the human subconscious in a generative and revelatory way. This installation is a multichannel video projected onto five screens forming a pentagon. with black and white vignettes derived from dreams and other associations. The work is comprised of surreal imagery that touches upon various issues, including interpersonal relations, social belonging, cross-race dynamics, colorism, diversity and power struggles in institutions, the urban environment, electronic devices and loneliness, matriarchy versus patriarchy, and parent-child relations. The vignettes, Basin, Beach, Nighthawks, Institution, and Tunnel take place in architecturally specific environments, such as a turn-of-the-century clear-span factory; the diner from Edward Hopper’s 1942 painting, Nighthawks; a classical building with a column portal; and a tunnel. Throughout, the work is psychoanalytically charged with symbolism and includes elements like oozing liquids, figures bathing in water, scissors cutting off a tie, mirror reflections, ambiguous body movements oscillating between vulnerability and aggression, architectural openings like tunnels and window shutters, and a frustrated toddler. The psychoanalytic lens on the built environment and related materials reveals new interpretations of architectural creations and how humans experience buildings.

Julia Phillips was born in Hamburg and lives and works in Chicago and Berlin. She has had solo exhibitions at MoMA PS1, New York, and Kunstverein Braunschweig. Her work was featured in the 10th Berlin Biennial, the New Museum Triennial, and 59th International Art Exhibition—La Biennale di Venezia. Her work has also been shown at museums including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Museum Brandhorst, Munich; the Museu de Arte de São Paulo; and the Studio Museum in Harlem. Additionally, her work is held in numerous public collections including the The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Museum MMK für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt; and the Moderna Museet, Stockholm. Phillips completed her first public artwork commission titled Observer, Observed (2022–24) for the High Line, New York. In 2023, her first monograph, Energy Exchange, was released with Mousse Publishing and she was included in the 2024 Whitney Biennial.