Julia Calfee, multi-media artist, photographer, writer and animator has spent most of her professional life living and working in Europe and Asia. She majored in journalism at NYU and studied Art History at the Sorbonne in Paris. Her first book on the subject of artists and their studios was published by Miro Foundation in 1995.
In 2003, the book Spirits and Ghosts: Journeys through Mongolia was published by powerHouse Books, New York. This book explores the transitions and changes in Mongolia since 1996, touching upon the obstinate ritual and beliefs of this country still steeped in the murkiness of the post-Communist era.
From 1996 to 2002, she focused on Mongolia, where she led a caravan to bring medicine to remote areas. During this time she also documented life in Mongolian prisons for a relief organization, and photographed the blight of poverty in Ulan Bator.
From 2003 until 2008 Julia Calfee has been living mainly in New York City's Hotel Chelsea, where she documented the state of mind that has existed in that unique place - the legendary residence for artists, writers and musicians. The years she spent in the Chelsea Hotel were a visual quest for the unifying elements of the people who chose to live in this place and the ghosts who still lurk in its shadows.
As Julia Calfee recounts, “When I photographed at the Chelsea Hotel, I would stay in a space or situation for hours. Time would pass and my presence would become less and less visible. Sometimes I would even disappear.”
This long term project has become a well-acclaimed book ‘Inside the Chelsea Hotel’ published by powerHouse Books New York in 2008. Julia Calfee’s book consists of 81 black and white photos on double page as well as very short stories about the residents and atmosphere of the hotel. There is also an introduction by Milos Forman, film director (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Amadeus, The People vs. Larry Flynt).
Her recent project "The Last Songs of the Glaciers" on global warming with recordings and close-up photography of melting ice was exhibited during the Art Basel Fair 2010 and at "The Verbier Green Pioneering Summit" (VGPS) 2010. Two videos have been produced on this project, one by Swiss Television for swissinfo.ch in English and German and the other for the Copenhagen Summit by Radio Free Europe as well as a catalogue titled Vanishing Glaciers.
Her photo essays have appeared in the National Geographic book ‘Inside China’ in 2007 as well as in many other publications, such as the New York Times Magazine, Paris Match, Figaro Magazine, Time, London Sunday Times, The Guardian, Corriere della Sera, and foto8 and has also been shown in museums and galleries in France, Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Italy, Spain, and the USA.
Her ongoing project is titled “Messages from Another World”, Bali 2011-2012.