SARAH ANNE JOHNSON
22 NOV - 2 FEB
Opening November 22, 6pm to 9pm
Photography’s greatest virtue is also its most fraught: how is the camera, an inherently objective device, meant to preserve the ephemeral or describe the ineffable? Sarah Anne Johnson’s new exhibition addresses such impossibilities, turning the limitations of her medium into opportunities. Supplementing her photographs with tactile interventions, she revivifies her own euphoric experiences, conjuring the personal from the merely real.
Adorned with neon and gaudy stickers, the new landscapes feel forcedly cheerful. This, Johnson says, is by design. Her prints have always celebrated nature’s grandeur; here, however, in these views of oceans, forests and desert, her environmental conscience probes deeper, the strain of her optimism grown more pronounced and the imagery turned sickly-sweet. Cotton balls exaggerate the fluffiness of clouds. Fields sprout plastic flowers. What might be sublime sunsets curdle, on closer inspection, into cloying overstatement. Johnson is declaring the death of the sublime, describing the ever-narrowing divide between nature, cherished, and nature, mourned.
Recipient of a Master's degree in photography from the Yale School of Art (2004), Sarah Anne Johnson works in video, sculpture and performance. Her work appears in numerous collections and has been included in exhibitions at, among other institutions, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Maison Rouge (Paris) and the National Gallery of Canada. Johnson is currently included in the exhibition Everything is Connected: Art and Conspiracy at the Met Breuer in New York. She lives and works in Winnipeg.