Julia Kissina was born in Kiev, Ukraine and studied dramatic writing at the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography in Moscow, also known as VGIK. As a political refugee, she immigrated to Germany in 1990, where she later graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich.
A longtime member of the Moscow Conceptualist movement and one of the best known authors of Russian literary avant-garde, Kissina had been a regular contributor to the two of Russia's Samizdat literature journals, "Obscuri Viri" and "Mitin Journal". Her début short novel "Of the Dove's Flight Over the Mud of Phobia"(1992), became a cult hit of "Samizdat". Kissina's poetry and prose subsequently appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including the much-translated anthology of modern Russian literature, "Russian Flowers of Evil"(1997). Her first collection of stories in German "Vergiss Tarantino" (Forget Tarantino) was published in 2005, the same year as her children’s book "Milin und der Zauberstift" (Milin and the Magic Pen).
Her style, characterized by whimsical humor, precise observations of social conflicts and a distinct sense of the absurd, can be described as “Auto-fictional Fabulist” or “Magical Realist.” An essential theme of her work is "civilization and its discontents". Despite intertextual experiments with words and subjects, her books are intricately plotted. Her novel "Frühling auf dem Mond" (2013, Springtime on the Moon) draws from her childhood in the 1970s Kiev, exploring the tragic dynamic between surreal perception and bureaucratic despotism. Written in a similar style, her novel "Elephantinas Moskauer Jahre" (2016, Elephantina’s Moscow Years) is a coming-of-age story about a young woman who moves to Moscow to explore the depths of the artistic underground in search of true poetry.
Julia Kissina is also recognized as a notable visual artist, as part of the Contemporary Russian art movement; and as with Dada, Kissina considers the idea, or concept, of an artistic work to be just as important as it’s physical expression. The purpose of art is to express ideas or relationships between those ideas. Her works are not expected to obey or conform to the conventions of realism and are more dream-like and surreal, embracing aspects of society, legend as well as allegorical narratives.
Kissina, a multi-disciplined artist, who’s output was wildly diverse, ranging from performance art to poetry, photography, sculpture, illustration and painting. She is ever evolving creatively, devoting herself to conceptual photography in the 1990s. In 2000, she herded an actual flock of sheep into the Museum of Modern Art in Frankfurt as part of a performance work. She also co-curated the Art & Crime Festival at the Hebbel Theater, Berlin, in 2003 and performed in a German prison. In 2006 she created The Dead Artist's Society, which held séances to conduct "Dialogues with Classics" such as the Dadaist, Marcel Duchamp and the Minimalist Kazimir Malevich.
As a conceptual artist, Kissina’s focus was not writing or crafting aesthetically pleasing objects but, on creating works that often tilted societal sensibilities, with original works that generate challenging questions about the norms of traditional society. Kissina’s thought provoking art is characteristically bold and provocative, with the role of the artist as instigator, and the purpose of art is to stimulate a reaction, or the introspection that arises from the viewer’s imagination.