Jana Perkovic

Biographies are hard. I moved to Australia from Croatia, via Italy, in 2005. As any emigrant, my life is full of inexplicable fractures of logic. I have studied languages, philosophy, literature, theatre, have half a degree in Japanese (language and culture) and I’m a trained classical pianist. By profession: urban designer and geographer. I teach and research at the University of Melbourne on issues ranging from spatial clustering of creative industries to why children no longer walk to school on their own. I also lecture at the Victorian College of the Arts, and am the editor of Assemble Papers, a magazine about art and urbanism that unites my two great interests. I make a podcast called Audiostage, of long conversations with artists and scholars about uncomfortable topics, and for ten years, 2007-2017, I wrote a blog called Guerrilla Semiotics.


I have lived in five countries and speak five languages, and I have little patience for people who cannot see past the English language. I’ve been writing since about the age of three, but I think of language as a form of communication, not a fetish object.The thing is never equivalent to the word that describes it: language always maps imperfectly onto the object. Perhaps as a way to highlight this multilingual experience of fluidity, I like things that are not words, that cannot be words: dances, places, experiences, emotions. My engagement with RealTime comes out of this interest in writing about the unwriteable. One thing I try to instill into my students is that reflection of this sort is painful, but necessary, if one is not to be a typing (or dancing, designing, or singing) monkey.

This has been a source of great confusion to many, including myself: I am an urban designer writing about theatre. I think that it is healthy to have a period of searching, in our twenties, of trying things out, and for me that has involved a quest to reconcile buildings and bodies, real life and constructed situations, geography and choreography. Looking back, I’d like to think that I have created a cohesive body of writing on the intersection of spatial theories and embodied practices. But who knows how I will feel in ten years’ time.

Recent articles for realtime

Other writing