Born in Hamburg in 1985, Phillips received degrees from the Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg and School of the Arts at Columbia University before attending the Whitney Independent Study Program. Phillips completed residencies at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine, Denniston Hill in Upstate New York and the Studio Museum in Harlem and Goethe Institut in Brazil. In the 2018 Triennial at the New Museum in NYC, five entries from Phillips’s Intruder series feature menacing hand-powered drills with phallic handles, a disturbing marriage of destruction with penetration, while her pseudo-medical Fixator (#1) constructs a scenario for controlled and clinical sexual interaction.
A self-proclaimed feminist, Julia Phillips makes ceramic objects that explore the body’s psychological and social interactions with the world at large. Producing imaginary tools potentially capable of inducing both pain and pleasure, and procedural displays for the examination and manipulation of the human form, Phillips confronts systems of power, domination, and submission. She said, “I find the human body to be a useful metaphor for experiences that happen on psychological, social, and political levels.”