Johan’s images are completely without people. Perhaps because humans are to obviously imperfect to imagine that they could be a part of even an illusory paradise. Yet the works clearly relate to human processes, beliefs, and illusions. The presentations are staged, with animals posing expressively for the camera like actors. Questions of authenticity versus artificiality aries when one recognizes that these are not all animals living in their natural habitats. Some were photographed on location in zoos or wildlife parks, farms and museums, other show roadkill or taxidermied specimens, posed and Photoshopped into landscape, still others were taken in the wild. Which are alive, and which are uncanny imitations of life? Such ambiguity is sypmtomatic of the universal dualisms that give life its sense of being contingent, unfixed. Citing such oppositions as “nature/artifice, irony/sincerity, nightmare/ideal, animal/human,” Johan says, “things in real life are never just one way or another. Its’s a way for me to get to some sort of truth about the instability of meaning.”
-Mark Scala, Chief Curator, First Center for the Visual Arts, From the exhibition catalogue Simen Johan: Until the Kingdom Comes
29 August through 8 October 2011
Reception for the artist in the Pollock Gallery, Friday, 2 September, from 5 to 7 p.m.
Brief artist’s discussion at 5:30 p.m.
Division of Art
Meadows School of the Arts
Southern Methodist University