Julie Cook

Julie Cook (b.St Albans, Herts) lives and works in London and is an artist whose work is photography based. Tutored by Rotimi Fani-Kahode in East London and introduced to issues around the body and sexuality, for over 20 years Julie Cook has engaged with the issue of voyeurism within personal and public spaces of the city. A lot of her work has been collaborative; with the subjects themselves and often with her partner, Paul Davies, an architect.

Julie Cook is currently working as a Senior Lecturer in Photography at University of East London. She has also lectured at the Bauhaus Weimar; Berlin Technical University; University of Nevada, Las Vegas; Doomed Gallery, London; Canterbury Christchurch University; University of Hertfordshire, South Bank University, London; Slade School of Art Gallery, London and was part of the ICA symposium on ErotICA.

Download updated CV

E.L.S.C. Files - Julie Cook

East London Strippers Collective Files
Book Project (series of 6)

The East London Strippers Collective (ELSC) is a collaborative book project that evidences the activism of a group of six women, juxtaposing this with the language of photographic portraiture and performance within an East London warehouse awaiting demolition and redevelopment. In this setting these representations and re-representations within a series of six books challenge the notion of ‘progress’ in many ways. The content includes not just portraiture, but evidence of social media as a site for participation, communication and public event organisation - challenging the stigma of stereotype that dogs the perception of this industry.

Published as an artists' book, box file containing 6 A4 files, edition of 25, Back in Black Publishing, 2018.

The work has been exhibited as part of 'The Book Dispersed' at Casa das Artes, Porto and was launched at Doomed Gallery, Dalston, London. It is publicly accessible as part of the V&A book collection.

E.L.S.C. FILES - V&A

Olympia Moments Ltd - Julie Cook and Paul Davies

This body of work is about a small group of women in London, UK, who called their company ‘Olympia Moments’, and for 10 years decided to continue traditional striptease on their own terms as an underground party scene. The events took place in London pubs, you had to be recommended to go, the women organised the evenings themselves and made up their own rules.
It was set up by Ulrika, Jane and Max who explicitly referenced the Manet painting 'Olympia' on their business card.“We chose the image because of the controversy the image created at the time - it was obvious that Olympia was a prostitute and she had the ‘guts’ to look at you and challenge you. We saw ourselves as pioneers and wanted to challenge the establishment" (Ulrika, 2006). Photographed on medium format film between 2001-8, these ordinary surroundings are presented as artifice.

Published as a collaborative artists' book. Softcover with leather, 168mm x 128mm, 164 pp, edition of 100, drawings and introduction by Paul Davies, Back in Black Publishing, 2014.

Exhibited as part of a solo show at UH Galleries 'Sightlines: Public and Private (Lives)' and at Departure Lounge Gallery, Luton with Paul Davies and Melissa Moore, both curated by Matthew Shaul.

Beauties of Today - Julie Cook

A series of portraits on 'neo' or ‘new’ burlesque. Neo burlesque has been described as a form of entertainment that is an exaggerated imitation or parody of striptease. It reflected the resurgence of this performance-based art that originated in the nineteenth century that had found a new twenty-first century audience of both men and women. It is also a study of photographic portraiture and the erotic pose. The photos are all taken of mostly amateurs taking part in a yearly Tournament of Tease (produced by Lara Clifton) at the Working Men’s Club in London’s East End – the home of ‘old’ burlesque in the UK. '"I have always been inspired by pop culture, street art and folk traditions, and Burlesque feels firmly part of that. From Shamanic ritual and pageantry to Mummers Plays to Panto to Music Hall, Circus and Cabaret, they all inhabit a kind of Kangaroo court of chaos, both democratic and elitist in equally interchangeable and unpredictable measure.' Josh Knowles.

Published as an artists' book, softcover, 7 x 7 inches, 120 pp, writing by Josh Knowles and Geisha Go Disco, Back in Black Publishing, 2011

An exhibition of the work at Four Corners Gallery, London was awarded a London Arts Council Grant in 2008. Also exhibited as part of 'All That I Am’, Departure Lounge, Luton with Susan Hilton and Nancy Newberry, curated by Mathew Shaul.

Reno - Julie Cook and Paul Davies

Reno ‘The biggest little city’ did not disappoint. Refugee hippies from San Francisco; marvellous bar tenders (the book is dedicated to one of them, a certain Doug Twist) taxi drivers playing BTO steering with their knees; goats in Santa costumes riding in cars; big trucks; fantasy girls; fights; dope; antique markets and seductive, beautiful, dangerous, surviving ‘Americana’ where you nervously watch your back.

Limited edition artists' book of 160. Softcover, 15cm x 10cm, 96 pp. A collaborative book with Paul Davies, based on a joint trip to Reno in Christmas 2004, Back in Black Publishing, 2010

SOME LAS VEGAS STRIP CLUBS - Julie Cook

With the lights up and empty of people the photographs allow you to engage with a varied and often surprising architecture. The exteriors landscapes are all photographed in daylight and the interiors with the lights up. Some of the interiors are fantastic in their use of ‘luxury’ materials and design, some are not, but they are all public fantasy spaces. They invite fantasies of what might take place when the lights are down but at the same time reveal the illusion that construct them. Not unlike photography and its relationship to desire. The work represents over five years of work on this subject and self-published as an online book with a nod to Ed Ruscha’s early publications.

Published as an unlimited book. Softcover, 7 x 7 inches, 156 pp, text by Paul Davies, Back in Black Publishing, 2008 (2017).

The bookwork was included in Various Small Book, Referencing Various Small Books by Ed Ruscha (MIT Press, 2013). The exteriors were exhibited in 'PARIS TEXAS' at the Frank Elbaz Gallery, Dallas, an exploration of the American road and the Wim Wenders film. Curated by Paul Galvez, group show - Francis Alÿs, Davide Balula, Julie Cook, Robert Rauschenberg, Ed Ruscha, Blair Thurman.

Las Vegas Diaries - Julie Cook and Paul Davies

The Las Vegas Diaries explores the difficulties of living the western dream in Las Vegas – a city where consumption of experience is extreme. It is also a collaboration with writer Paul Davies who is the subject of many of the photos and also author of the writing that documents ten years of visiting Las Vegas as a University lecturer on student field trips and as a tourist. Julie Cook joins this account five years in. They were married in Las Vegas in 2001.

Published as a collaborative artists' book, softcover, 7.5 x 5.5 inches, 326 pp, 100 copies, edited by Mark Rappolt and designed by Allon Kaye, Back in Black Publishing, 2005.

Some of the series has also been published in Zeropolos, The Experience of Las Vegas, Bruce Begout, Reaktion, 2003 and contributed to an essay by Paul Davies, The Algiers, in ‘Stripping Las Vegas’ A Contextual Review of Casino Resort Architecture, edited by Karin Jasque and Silke Ötsch,El Verso, 2003.

Baby Oil and Ice, Striptease in East London - Sarah Ainslie, Julie Cook and Lara Clifton

A collaborative book that includes both photographs and writing. East London community photographer Sarah Ainslie presents an intimate documentary series backstage. Julie Cook shows a series of empty interiors of London strip pubs that show only the signs of what happens in these spaces; also a series of extreme close-ups of the dancers themselves that confront the voyeurism that is intrinsic to these spaces and how they are experienced. There is writing by the strippers themselves, collected and edited by Lara Clifton. 'This book seeks to provide a snapshot of strip pubs in the East End. The combination of a traditional pub with naked ladies is fast becoming a thing of the past' (Lara Clifton, 2002). There is also an introduction by Ana Lopes, founder of the International Union of Sex Workers and forward by Dr Tuppy Owens, founder of the Sexual Freedom Ball and The Erotic Awards.

Baby Oil and Ice, Striptease in East London, hard cover, 10x8 inches, 178pp, edited by Lara Clifton and designed by Patrick Myles, The Do-Not-Press, 2002.

The work was exhibited as part of the Hereford Photographic Festival in 2001 and the won the Erotic Book Award in 2002.