Julie Orlick's "Silent Lovers" comes to Mammal Gallery

Looking through Julie Orlick’s film and photography collection is like entering a portal that transports you to a timeless place where the past fades, the future is kept at bay, and the ephemeral now is realized. Her work has a strange oscillating effect on the viewer; a feeling of nostalgia while in the same moment the knowing that the photographs are current. Orlick shoots mostly on 16mm and 35mm film stock which gives her work that clear yet grainy warm, timeless feel that only vintage cameras can deliver.

Orlick’s mother gave her a mini digital camera in elementary school sparking her interest in photography, but it wasn’t until high school that the interest became a passion. “My obsession with photography grew when I decided I wanted to take it super seriously. When I was roughly 16 years old [I] signed up for a photography class at Santa Monica College”, Julie told Plasma.

The course at Santa Monica College taught her how to shoot on 35mm. At roughly the same time she was interning at LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art). “During my internship, there was a huge Dalí exhibit, and LACMA was offering a 16mm surrealist film class that I was fortunate enough to take”, she said. This period proved to be one that changed the trajectory of her life’s work.

Shooting on old film stock is quickly becoming a lost art with the proliferation of high-quality digital cameras on everything from your phone to your refrigerator. Orlick says she’s learned lots of lessons about life and art through the process of developing film. One of the main things is patience. “The fact that things may break and you need to be able to find your resources, whether they be in another state or country,” she said. There are all kinds of things young people don’t ever think about when they can shoot and reshoot endless takes on digital cameras. In the process of shooting film, things get damaged, and you have to reorient where the project is going. Conditions have to be perfect because many times it’s the only chance you get “film is forever.”

Film has an indexical relationship to the real world, which is to say that like a thumbprint stamped in ink, it has a connection between the object and what it is capturing.  It’s the imprint gathered through a chemical process of capturing light. This is why Orlick’s medium is so precious and her work so beautiful. It captures this sense of timelessness that digital just can’t match with a series of ones and zeroes. While Orlick does have a love for all things old and vintage, she doesn’t dwell within the confines of the past. “To me, time doesn't exist,” she said. “The past and future are words we use to make us feel comfortable. The moment I realized we are in a constant state of "nowness," I kind of had a panic attack, but then also came to this sense of peace.”

This understanding of immediacy and "nowness," allows Orlick to draw from a plethora of inspiration. Time and its seeming hold on cultural fads and phenomenon fall by the wayside. While examining her work, it’s hard not to notice her affinity for 1920’s vaudeville, mimes, and 1950’s diners. Her work seems to be a meditation on time and our perception of it. How we yearn for a time that has passed as if that past moment was more authentic or better than the moment we are in now. Her work creates this false nostalgia for things we can’t quite pinpoint, but somehow we know we miss even if we weren’t there to experience it.

You can experience Julie Orlick’s 16mm Avante-Garde film “Silent Lovers” which follows a mime’s struggle to break free from his repressive diamond shackles Monday, July 17th at the Mammal Gallery. There will be a live score written by Gracie Patchouli Jø and performed live alongside the screening. There will also be a retrospective of Orlick’s eleven other short films and a set by Atlanta’s own Loudermilk and Moon to close out the evening. Admission is five dollars and doors open at seven pm.