Artistic in Many Ways: Julia Alting Talks About Embracing Photography and Fashion

By Marlies Augustijn

— Although AUC tries to emphasize its science department, there are many students who keep bringing the visual arts to the attention of the AUC community. Second-year humanities major Julia Alting has been passionate about art since she was a child, which has resulted in her becoming the chair of AUC’s Art Committee. Alting’s interests and role models revolve around art in the general sense, but are concentrated on photography and fashion in particular.

Alting was born in The Hague on September 22, 1994, and grew up in an artistic environment. According to Alting, her dad enjoyed painting and taking photographs, and her friends did as well. Alting remembered that she always liked to draw and create small artworks.

“When I was ten or something, I had my first [digital] camera, which I lost in a roller coaster. But that was when I really started taking pictures,” Alting said.

In high school, Alting chose the Cultuur en Maatschappij (Culture and Society) profile, which is the humanities department for secondary education. When Alting was about sixteen, she found her mother’s old analogue camera. Alting said, “That really helped me to figure out [the right settings for] shutter speed and stuff, because with analogue you kind of have to, otherwise your photos are too dark or too blurry.”

Alting considered applying to art school but decided it would not be the place for her. A lifelong reader and writer, she wanted to acquire a more in-depth knowledge of art-related theories. She entered AUC as a humanities major in the fall of 2013, choosing to focus on the art and communication tracks.

“I think it worked out really well. I feel like the theory really inspires me to do more with that,” Alting said.

Immediately in her first year, she became involved with the Art Committee as head of photography. It was only then that she started to invest intensively in her interest for taking pictures. “I felt a bit weird about becoming head of photography because I felt like I didn’t have enough knowledge,” Alting said. “But then it worked in a way that because I was head of photography, I thought I needed to do more with this.”

Now, Alting has her own photography website on which she has posted some of her work. Alting states that in most of her photographs, she combines multiple images to produce new meanings and connections. She tends to focus on creating a mixture between people and places. “A recurring theme in my work is photography’s relationship with memory and the way photographs shape how we remember,” Alting said.

In September 2014, Alting became chair of the Art Committee. Her fellow board members are very positive about her way of filling in the position. Nikki Omes, head of painting, said, “She is assertive, yet kind and understanding. She knows what needs to be done and has an eye for how to make things happen and how to divide up the tasks amongst the committee members.” Charlotte Knaup, one of the two exhibition managers, added, “She is very smart and sweet and is one of those people who just give others a lot of good energy.”

Alting is particularly pleased with the Art Committee’s latest event, the second edition of the cultural festival Scopophilia on 9 May 2015. All artistic disciplines represented on the committee worked together to create one event, containing an exhibition, film screenings, musical performances and an after party. Alting compared the first and second edition: “This time it has been even broader and more inclusive. I feel like there was more equal attention to other types of art [than only to film].”

Outside the AUC bubble, Alting is involved in artistic events and photography-related happenings in particular. In the beginning of the year, she exhibited some of her photographs in a multimedia exhibition organized by White Label, a platform for film, photography and media projects in Amsterdam.

At the moment, Alting is really into the Canadian photographer Petra Collins. “She takes these analogue photographs of teenage girls that are pastel coloured,” Alting explained. Alting is fascinated by the way Collins captures the daily experiences of teenage girls.

Another field in which Alting has always been interested is fashion. Her main inspiration is fashion blogger Tavi Gevinson. Alting said, “Tavi started up this online magazine Rookie for teenage girls. And she always wears this weird shit. She was also the inspiration for why I started a fashion blog myself [in my teenage years].”

Alting remembered that she became obsessed with fashion when she was around fourteen or fifteen. “I think most of my clothes are second hand, or from family members,” Alting said. “I love the Kringloop [general Dutch name for vintage stores].” Maxime Garcia Diaz, Alting’s roommate and one of her closest friends at AUC, said about Alting’s style, “She’s less interested in looking good or wearing things that are flattering or whatever, and more interested in looking interesting. She approaches clothes as a creative project.”

Next semester, Alting will study at New York University (NYU). She plans to take courses in photography and video art, but also one in fashion.

In the future, Alting would like to combine her practical and theoretical skills. As an example, she mentioned Deborah Willis, head of the photography department of NYU. Alting said, “I think her job is amazing, it’s like my dream job, because she’s an art photographer and she’s an academic.”

Living in Amsterdam, a hub for artists and cultural initiatives, must make it hard for Alting to name her favourite museum in the city. “I feel like I have to mention some kind of underground gallery or something, but I don’t really know any,” Alting admitted with a laugh. On her list of most-visited places are simply the photography museum FOAM and the Stedelijk, the museum for modern and contemporary art.

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