Rolf Julius

Performance, 1988

22.04.22 31.07.22

On view

In our new Cinema room program and on the occasion of the Rolf Julius | Kevin Rouillard duo show at Xippas Paris, we would like to share with you a rare archive film featuring Rolf Julius’ performance from the 80s. In this dreamy performance – somewhere in between a concert and a dance -, Rolf Julius allowed the sunlight to be transformed into sound, weaving it into a hypnotizing symphony of tones and noises.

Rolf Julius (1939 – 2011) is a German artist who has been known since the 80s for his sculptures and sound installations, as well as his concerts and performances. His exhibitions have taken place in Europe as well as in the two Americas and in Japan, whose aesthetics of small gestures and shadows he felt a particular affinity with.

When one thinks of his work, what comes to mind are not so much objects, stable and defined. Rather, these are “moods” or “atmospheres” or “situations.” “Ecosystems,” in which things and places are enveloped in sounds. Besides, Rolf Julius’ artworks are often designed for specific environments, sometimes literally: loudspeakers placed on the edge of a lake to play a concert for it; small loudspeakers installed in a field or a city centre or in the white cube of a museum or a gallery. They are suspended from the ceiling, sheltered in Japanese bowls or slipped under floating glass plates. Modest and humble, they often hide like small wild animals and “decentralise” themselves in space to stay out of the spotlight, settling in corners or on windows or staircases. In the intimacy of their hideouts, they work their magic, mixing sound with other substances, be it language or pigment or dust.

This intimate performance took place at the Mattress Factory museum in Pittsburgh (US), on the fifth floor at 500 Sampsonia Way. Scattered on the floor solar panels neighbored loudspeakers, bowls, tape-players, etc. The elements were interconnected with delicate lines of electronic wires which were constantly rearranged and recomposed by Rolf Julius’ subtle gestures. He created a whole ecosystem and turned it into a musical instrument, “playing” on it whilst making it change and evolve. Moving throughout the space, Rolf Julius manipulated the recording, modulating sounds by interrupting the power source of the solar panels. Sometimes he covered the speakers or the bowls with paper which would tremble from the sound vibrations. Sometimes he placed little sticks on them. He sound-painted in space with light and objects, fusing the acts of hearing and seeing into one. Transforming the space into a zone of meditative contemplation and open awareness.


Rolf Julius


Rolf Julius, Performance (1988) at Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh.


Estate rolf julius & Mattress Factory.


Join our mailing list for updates about our artists, exhibitions, events, and more.



Please leave your contact information and we will get back to you about your selection as soon as possible.


Please leave your contact information and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Schedule a visit

Please leave your contact information and preferred date & time, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

    Subject Enquiry about my wishlist (2 items)