I wanna go home II
I wanna go home II
Katrin Bucher Tantrow

SBKT190508 is a large boulder of Krastal marble that Julie Hayward discovered on May 19, 2008. With its tentacle-like steel arms, the 1.4 m high stone sculpture hovers over a surface of eight square meters above the ground. Its sovereign materiality branches out in something that resembles puddles, making the piece appear surreal in iconoclastic terms. Its essence comes to life in the grotesque manifestation of a feeling that is sweetly familiar, O.T., 2007 is the drawing of a body machine, a hermaphrodite, in which the technical merges with the organic. However, it is not a construction sketch made with ink on paper but rather a drawing depicting something that cannot be grasped logically but can be immediately “recognized” in physical terms in each fragment. What connects these two paradigmatic works of Hayward is the hermaphroditic essence ascribed to the figure, the tangible – possibly also useful – physis in the technoid and the cunning playfulness of the sculpture’s form: appealingly familiar but at the same time radically unsettling.

Julie Hayward is a sculptress. But she is also a photographer. And she draws. This she engages in freely, as something coming from within, but it is always also formative in a sculptural sense. Hierarchies are not evident, the media imployed are always independent of each other and yet at first glance most intimately connected.

Hayward’s works are figurative, object-like and in a certain sense also realistic. Even if the represented objects often appear alienating, they are still situated in the associative field of tools stemming from a universe that connects visionary science fiction, strangely androgynous eroticism and simple installation technology. The objects are defined in an enduring way by a formal idiom that is based on the notion of growth so significant for the 20th century when human genetic makeup – DNA – was decoded from the micro to the macro levels. Here cellular structures also emerge, like the ones described by biologist Ernst Haeckel at the end of the 19th century.  The associations and parallels are truly diverse, ranging from flowing fantastic forms and surface structures like the ones formulated by designers and architects, as for instance, Joe Colombo influenced by sculpture, and the seemingly futuristic nuclear age, to films influenced by the latter, such as “Solaris” by Andrei Tarkovsky (1972) or “Alien” by Ridley Scott (1979). Further associations could be life in outer space and even the animist approach of arte povera, which, as Pino Pascali demonstrated, created beings out of the functional objects of everyday life.

In each medium, the artist is committed to the creative principle, which oscillates between the technically crafted and the organically grown, the classical notions of male vs. female, the “directed” functional vs. the “open” aesthetic formal. It is a dual creative principle that Hayward uses to create sets of dialogues that allow the object to be found in its perceptual contexts and to question categories. Here her subversive potential becomes manifest, which not only penetrates the boundaries of genres but also subverts fixed roles and untiringly strives to reach home in the dynamic, existential connection of the subject and object. Hayward’s oeuvre thus exemplifies the biomorphic, which transforms, flows from one state to the next and is defined by the process-driven merging with the essential.

Even within the works the dual principle of connection is visible as an existential pattern. Here the individual forms of representation in two dimensions are linked with the line. On a three-dimensional scale, this line mutates into a pipe or as in TV-Baby (2002) even into an umbilical cord that gives life. Elsewhere, as in the most recent series titled “Subliminal” (2014), the artist’s approach is also marked by bracing, riveting and knotting. As really exemplary of this, the sculptural piece Let’s dance (2014) embraces the dual connection, when two stable, yet tender looking folds over aluminum rings invite the viewer’s imagination to dance with their evocative bracing. In dialogue, each of the formations found by Hayward assumes a stability, which reveals itself as something dependent but at the same time as compelling. Hayward’s biomorphic formations are caught up in a field of forces both in the second and the third dimension, which sees its existential condition in the general connection of reciprocal attraction. The artist thus creates affinities, which equally allude to the protection of security as well as, in Freud’s sense, to the uncanny compulsion of the familiar.
Beginning with 2000, Hayward has been pursuing the radical path of being found, taking recourse to the unconscious while drawing. She uses automatic drawing, which the surrealists, under the sway of emerging psychoanalysis, ascribed absolute authenticity to, so as generate uncontrolled growth. Technical production thus formulates its own figures in the act of uncontrolled drawing. It creates for itself a spitting image from the energy flows of inner worlds that relate to each other in a superordinate way.

The conditions of inner and outer spaces become visible in their outer layers and in the folds of the skin, relating emotionally to each other in the Deleuzean sense.  On Hayward’s refined surfaces, these layers are assumed to have existences that relate to the unconscious and reveal formal references to a tradition of the surreal. When plush carpets or even rubber-like surfaces are used for a visual, haptic experience, our senses are activated as, for instance, in TV-Baby or Pooped. Even in the vortex structure and the visual haptic quality of Aequilibration (2007), which allude to the body, sensory material is used and moved to the void, a distant reality, even to a world beyond ours. But it is not the world beyond, not the super-real, but quite the contrary, the possible in the hyper-real, which Hayward’s technoid evocations are aiming at.

In her text on Hayward’s drawings, Barbara Wally develops the compelling argument that the artist’s approach is to formulate a three-dimensional “in-between consciousness”. In this sense, automatic drawing is not (just) supposed to let the unconscious speak in its strange way, but also meant to jot down fleeting thoughts, that is, to catch the dreams of reason and to let them become “form” in drawing. The significant feature of these dimensions of the automatic process becomes manifest itself in the fact that the drawings – and the surfaces – are thus “complete”, that they exist by virtue of themselves and are the actual insight of construction.

Wally interprets this in the tradition of feminist drawings, as in the constructions of femininity in Birgit Jürgenssen’s drawings. What is particularly notable about Wally’s argument is her way of viewing, very different from the Surrealists, the totality of the creative process as a mode of gaining control so as to to flee the uncontrolled.
In the philosophical tale of “The Little Prince” by Antoine des Saint-Exupéry, who addresses the meaning of home, there is a passage where the curious prince meets with the fox and asks it whether it would like to play with him. The answer given by the fox, which stands for the other, the foreign, the dangerous, but also for cleverness and its warning are strange: “Je ne puis pas jouer avec toi, je ne suis pas apprivoisé” – “I cannot play with you. I am not tame.” “A-privoiser” means literally: I am private, I stick to myself and am not socialized. Only on emerging from the private realm is danger tamed, allowing the essential to become visible.

Hayward’s approach to appropriating the in-between consciousness by means of drawing and the subsequent translation into the haptic object, could be also be read in the opposite sense – as slow “apprivoiser” – as targeted experience and announcement with uncanny, yet appealing spaces of the unconscious into a state of being tamed. As in the prince who leaves his homeland so as to be able to find it by means of distance is making something visible a process, a slow process of acquaintance and experience, a marking off of territory and becoming aware of the rules. “You only see well with your heart,” the fox says.
This search for home is a recurring theme in Hayward. “I wanna go home” was the title of two exhibitions in 2011 and at the same time the title of a groundbreaking piece that was shown there.  The black shiny object in the room covered with synthetic leather allows for many associations. Is the piece a “forgotten launching pad”, as Silvie Aigner wrote,  or is it a Martian cooker, an over-sized earpiece or even the shelter of ET driven by homesickness? The materiality alone evokes scenes of sexual fantasies and fetish objects of a different type. Precisely given their natural, discrete compactness, to be found in the technical perfection and a size that is geared to the viewer – that is to say, their tamed nature – the piece exerts a pull on the inquisitive viewer whose feelings fluctuate between recognition and perplexity – or to put it differently, somewhere between the familiar and the uncanny. Something similar can be found in the piece Catch me if you can, the title and form of which are dedicated to the subject of refugees. It describes with humor and an ironic undertone coming home as a search for the unattainable.

Like all of Julie Hayward’s photographic pieces, the invitation card to the exhibition “I wanna go home” is strongly encrypted. In the center of the nocturnal motif, there is a brightly illuminated window – glass stones in the shape of a T, promise warmth, but at the same time obstruct someone from entering and send a signal of unattainability. This sense of the unattainable seems to be directed toward the sky or in the process of rising up, leaving the city in the background far behind.

The works of “I wanna go home” merge the alphabet of the biomorphic with the (literally) cultivated and the artifact. They appear to be gentle, and to offer a home, protection and possible use – but all of this without dispensing with an inherent tension and the power of the unfathomable, thus acknowledging its own brutality and aggression as part of this home. What interests Julie Hayward in this process of taming and in viewing is the danger of aggression as a productive part of what is innate, intensely personal.

According to Michel Serres, mankind thrives only from relationships and is blind without a referent.  For Hayward’s media there is indeed no hierarchy. An inner affinity, accompanying the process of creation, can be found throughout the artist’s entire oeuvre, which placed in a historical context, allows for parallels to be drawn to other different groups of works.”  From Lee Bull’s fetishizing of modernist shapes, Birgit Jürgenssen’s liberating approach through drawing to Louise Bourgeois’ work on the desire for a protective home or Bruno Gironcoli’s way of addressing the essential qualities of sculptural material – a number of references are possible. What is striking is that Hayward dares to work with all formats. She is just as committed to ironic pop and to working with art as a commodity and the effects of material based on a study of psychoanalysis. Here, too, Hayward adopts a dual approach, by not just using the medium to mediate between content and statement, but also by addressing how something can make a general statement and be binding per se. And so for Hayward the visually tangible layer which has sprung up through osmosis represents a place of lively creation, where technology and nature can be reconciled.