Julie Marsh is a senior lecturer and practice-based researcher at the Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media (CREAM). Julie has developed a pioneering methodology “site-integrity” which explores collaborative approaches to field research using emergent technologies to perform and record the tangible and intangible elements of site. Her projects are site-specific and collaborative, building direct social relationships with communities. She has exhibited internationally, most recently as part of the Three British Mosques at Venice Architecture Biennale 2021.
Julie is a member of the Arts, Communication and Culture and the Diversity and Inclusion Research Community and the Faith, Spirituality & Belief Colleague Network at the University of Westminster and sensingsite a research group developing arts-based responses to the political, material, and sensory natures of site, place, and space.
Julie’s research is engaged with collaborative and knowledge-led approaches to field research, from moving image to emergent technologies and data collection. Through the exploration of real and representational space she investigates how technical machines can perform site, creating critical experiences for audiences that open debate and question social spaces.
In 2017 she coined the term “site-integrity” as a particular but original mode of site-specific practice that directly responds to the site and its community. Artistic devices allow for clear articulation of the material, architectural, social, institutional discourses present in site as a dynamic network or system of exchange. This methodology offers a collaborative approach to fieldwork, transforming the traditional anthropological ‘subject of research’ into the producer of its own voice. This egalitarian approach to artmaking encourages reflexive conversations that avoid reductive ethnographic portraits of ‘subjects’ and fixed representation. See link for more details: https://site-integrity.com/about/ ‘Site-integrity’ was featured in the Journal for Artistic Research, Issue 19 (2019). This exposition presents three specific projects; Assembly, Moving Site/Sight and Screen Space that are examples of artistic devices that contribute to site-integrity.
Julie’s long-standing research project Assembly conducts fieldwork within adapted Islamic sites of worship exploring an under-represented aspect of Britain’s religious heritage, the self-built mosque. Made and exhibited in Birmingham Central Mosque (2016); Brick Lane Mosque (2018 –19); Old Kent Road Mosque (2019–20); and Harrow Mosque (2020) a series of site-specific installations perform Muslim prayer spaces, comprising of 1:1 scaled moving floor projections with 5.1-surround sound. Made in collaboration with the different mosque congregations, Assembly “performs” the social and religious structures of the site. Everyday Muslims, the Muslim Council of Britain, the Inclusive Mosque Initiative, and Inter Faith Network UK were project partners. Virtual Assembly (2022) is an interactive virtual space for Old Kent Road Mosque community created due to the demolition and redevelopment of their mosque. Built using 3D software and immersive technologies (VR/AR), the space combines scanning technologies with drawings, audio, film, and speculative design.
The research findings have been shared internationally at conferences and journals within the fields of performance, architecture, arts and religion such as the article Assembly: Performing the Materiality of Muslim Prayer Spaces in Scene 6 (2018). In 2019 Assembly was shortlisted for the Art and Christianity award for art in a religious context, the first time a mosque has been nominated for the prize. Assembly has been exhibited internationally as part of the Three British Mosques exhibition, V&A Pavilion for La Biennale di Venezia 2021. Working in collaboration with the V&A and architect Shahed Saleem (School of Architecture + Cities) the exhibition looked at the self-built and often undocumented world of adapted mosques. The exhibition included films, scans and oral records generated by my Assembly research, these outputs will enter the V&A collection as permanent digital artefacts, each representing a stage in the evolutionary journey of the mosque. To accompany the exhibition British Mosques publication was produced as a collaboration between the V&A and CREAM. This publication captures the British mosque at a pivotal moment in its history and includes an overview of the Assembly research project and findings.
Recent exhibitions include: Black Box Symposium, CAS (Centre for Audiovisual Studies) FAMU, Prague (2020), SCREEN Moving Image Festival, Barcelona (2019), The Biennial for Emerging Arts, Romania (2018) Lokomotywownia, The Starmach Gallery, Krakow (2018), Sputnik-Kino, Berlin Short Film Festival (2018), Moving Sites/Sights, Meetfactory, International Centre of Contemporary Art, Prague (2018).