WE INVITE YOU TO VISIT LAUREL JOHANNESSON'S VIEWING ROOM
Laurel Johannesson explores the psyche through uncanny juxtapositions between body and nature, realism and dream. The figures are situated in natural settings that Laurel photographs in remote, mystically charged locations that include a shoreline as she sees the beach as a liminal site, the transformative space between two temporalities. The beach is a threshold where the intimation of celestial powers is murmured by the vacillation of the tides. It is the quintessential liminal zone. The beach is neither land nor sea, an expanse of precariousness that unveils a space of intensified sensations that are fleeting, idiosyncratic, and fugitive.
Art and in particular for me, photography, has always been a pretext to know the world. To know life. To know myself. It has been a way of investigating what’s happening in my mind and the sensations of my body in relationship to my environment.
‘Situations’ is a new series of work that I began in the spring of 2020. It explores various psychological states of being, using the beach or shoreline as a temporal space where transformation occurs. The figures are situated in natural settings that I photograph in remote, mystically-charged locations in Greece. These settings usually include a shoreline or sea cave, as I see the beach as a liminal site, the transformative space between two temporalities.
The works are a combination of my photographic imagery, digital collage, and hand-painted elements. I have archives full of source images that I’ve shot over the past ten years. I comb through folders and files, like a memory bank, deconstructing and reconstructing spaces out of real and imagined scenarios. It’s like a strange form of time travel, and I hope that the resulting images reflect that. The memory of the place becomes the reality of my mind. After I’ve completed a work, I often feel like I have a clear memory of the location, but then I’m jolted when I look back at my original photograph of the place. So, I’m immersed in the place while I’m there, reacting to the elements, the sharpness of the rocky shoreline, the negative ions, but a transformation continues when I revisit the image back in the studio. I’m once more immersed in the location, but this time with a memory of the place that is triggered by studying every detail of the photograph. Sometimes, I find things that I didn’t initially see and that sets off another narrative. The finished image is a psychological landscape.
In some of the imagery, the time of the day is unidentifiable, fluctuating between sunlight and moonlight, stars in the sky and sun on the waves. I remember as a child realizing that the oddness of the night scene that I was watching in a film was due to it being shot in daylight. Underexposing the daylight shot can add to the illusion of darkness or moonlight. It is typical to underexpose by about two f-stops. A neutral density filter is often used to achieve this darkening so that the camera aperture remains unchanged. During the silent era, scenes were often tinted blue during night scenes to enhance the illusion. Although moonlight is not actually blue, it appears bluish to the human eye. So, although I don’t use these particular techniques in my work, that aesthetic of the oddity of the “Day for Night” technique utilized in filmmaking has influenced the way I construct an image.
I think that my time spent in the projection booth of the theatre had an effect on me and I’ve always been interested in a particular kind of moving image, the narrative and strangeness of an image whether it’s still or moving. I remember seeing Steve McQueen’s “Drumroll” at the ICA in London in 1999. I thought, he’s interested in the texture and poetry of things, in the strangeness of the familiar world. I like that, finding the strangeness in the familiar world.
Laurel Johannesson, June 2021
PAST ART SHOW: ARTPOWHER launches on International Womxn's Day, a new exhibition series dedicated to womxn illustration artists.
YIN MY WAY OUT Artsy Online Exclusive Show Claudia Chanhoi, Chinese b. 1990 March 8th - June 10th, 2021
Like photography and printmaking, illustration has often been questioned: is it commercial, is it art? Read our press release.
PAST ARTSY ONLINE ART SHOW: Modern Womxn. You THINK YOU KNOW ME.
ARTPOWHER Contemporary is pleased to present the first in a series of group and solo exhibitions addressing questions about being a womxn in the 21st century. How do womxn feel and express themselves today - socially, sexually and politically? What distinguishes the work of womxn artists and is gender a major aspect that affects their artistic creation?
Gender roles are influenced by social beliefs and generalisations that have been accepted for centuries. Society observes womxn in different social roles and deduces characteristics that constitute gender stereotypes. MODERN WOMXN. You think You know Me, focuses on reframing the representation of the female figure in contemporary art. Realigning, examining or questioning the relationship of old-fashioned gender bias versus non traditional concepts, seeking an elevated language; sometimes feminine, unashamed, intimate, poetic, sometimes conceptual, disruptive or surreal. But always reclaiming ownership over the portrayal of a Modern Womxn. MODERN WOMXN. You think You know Me, brings together six womxn artists with different approaches and cultural experiences. Sola Olulode, April Marten, Gretchen Andrew, Laurel Johannesson, Annique Delphine and Madeline Bohrer. They all have a unique creative practice addressing their own social artistic position within their environment. The artistic approach may be different but all artists represent a contemporary sense and implication of a womxn’s individually shaped perspective, by expressing their own concept of a Modern Womxn in their artistic discipline, process or narrative.
WHY THE TERM MODERN? In a more contemporary use, "modernity" often refers to the cluster of social, historical & cultural developments from the late 19th century to the late 1920s, the second industrial revolution, the emergence of consumer culture and the different art movements from symbolism, to futurism, to dada, to surrealism. This conception of modernity fuses the cultural and historical meaning of the term. Unlike earlier periods and movements, modernity and modernism were from the start insistently identified in terms of gender, and with "modern" we want to emphasise the term womxn. And yes, there are much more stories that need to be told, (cultural) aspects to be included. Let’s start by listening to the stories that want to be told by April Marten, Sola Olulode, Gretchen Andrew, Laurel Johannesson, Annique Delphine and Madeline Bohrer.
The term womxn is an alternative spelling of the English word woman. It is used to avoid perceived discrimination in the standard spelling and to explicitly include or foreground transgender and non-binary people.
Lynn S. Battaglia Co-Founder and Curator, She Performs
While 2020 was a challenging year, at least it didn’t set us back in our striving for equality. Right? No. What this year did was make it clearer than ever, that there are still many jobs - mostly unpaid - done rather by womxn than men. Child care, care for the ederly, household, etc. were especially challenging for womxn this year. Yet, barely anyone noticed. Why? Because it was nothing new, but just an intensification of what we are used to and expect to happen.
The six artists in this show are not willing to accept facts, just because that’s how things have always been. Through reexaminations of their own body, identity and society’s ideals for women, they are defining the modern womxn as someone who has a voice and stories to tell that need to be heard. The modern womxn is unapologetic of herself and the way she positions herself in the world and art history. The modern womxn is a storyteller. Drawing from their own personal experiences she is allowing for history to be retold from new perspectives.
Annique Delphine’s delicate paintings invite us into a wonderful world of phantastic beings that are a manifestation of her exploration of her own identity. April Marten, is using performance as the ultimate tool of storytelling to tell the story of a woman that never was. Sola Olulode is weaving stories in her paintings about black identities and communities.
- You don’t know me, but if you listen closely enough, I’ll tell you everything you need to know.
The modern womxn is a warrior; unapologetically carving out a place for herself in our society. She wears her identity like a badge of honor. In her works, Madeline Bohrer unapologetically uses technology and social media to discuss the notion of self - hers as well as the viewers. While Gretchen Andrew explores and redefines the (art) world, through her use of collaging materials.
- I’m here, whether you want to know me or not.
The modern womxn is sex. Without hesitation she is reclaiming the rights to her own body and redirecting the male gaze. Positioning her own body into seemingly otherworldly photo collages, Laurel Johannesson is intentionally playing with the notion of the male gaze, but through composition, she is claiming the rights to her body.
- You can only fully know me by allowing my body to be.
The modern womxn is a force to be reckoned with. She’ll stand her stance. Always. Unafraid, she will stand up for what she believes in over and over again. - I’ll make myself be known, you just need to show up.
The modern womxn is everything. Now get to know us.
Sola's painting Laying in the Grass II has been selected for a digital billboard campaign "Portrayals of Black Joy" launched by Artsy in partnership with Outfront Media, spotlighting emerging Black artists in major cities in the US throughout the month of February. Courtesy of the Artist and ARPOWHER Contemporary! The campaing features also emerging Black artists - Derrick Adams, Dominic Chambers, and Kay Hickman.
A collaborative art project initiative empowering female identifying (womxn) creatives in the arts.
Due to the global health crisis, ARTPOWHER had to postpone its physical launch art show in Zurich. It’s our ambition to support our artists also drin this challenging time and we are pleased to announce our presence on Artsy and the collaboration with womxn contemporary artists Anne Vieux, Esther Ruiz and Madeline Bohrer.
Black Lives Matter. I’m proud to be a member of a multi-colored family and I believe, that everyone has the right to move freely, no matter where they live or the color of their skin. The systemic inequalities minority communities experience are unbearable and unjust. ARTPOWHER stands for equality and inclusion and we stand against the racism and injustice Black and African American communities endure. In the spirit of solidarity, we are making contributions to Loveland Foundation, an organization who is committed to showing up for communities of color in unique and powerful ways, with particular focus on Black women and girls in the US. We will never truly be the society we seek to be until each one of us contributes to the change that needs to happen.
"In a racist society it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist."
- Angela Y. Davis
Anna Maurrasse-Tomaiuolo, Founder & CEO ARTPOWHER Contemporary