JÓHAN MARTIN CHRISTIANSEN
I, Jóhan Martin Christiansen, am a visual artist currently living and working in Copenhagen, Denmark. In the following lines I want to give you a brief insight to some of my thoughts and work. The text is an ongoing process, some words will be added, rearranged and some will disappear with time.
As far as I can remember, the twilight has always awakened certain experiences of recognition in my body. This hour has activated some regions of my inner mechanics, my apparatus of senses, which move the body over into a particular frame of mind. Occasionally, this frame of mind calls forth a fatiguing paralysis that results in my staring into a bevy of rose-pink clouds on their way over the sphere, while on other days nothing happens—it must be a sorcery-like strength that my mind cannot or will not evade, a variation on an obsession, or maybe an ingress to the quixotic, to the daydream. The hour is an odd moment of the twenty-four-hour cycle, there where a bizarre tone settles over the world, an alloy of the day’s events, which shortly evaporate in front of the evening’s sunset—this delicately enigmatic but merciless transition between light and shadow, where the darkness is still waiting to be seen.
I repeat. Sometimes I lose my grip around my eye, a bastard-like moment sets in, and in the next blink of an eye, the outstanding account between the eye and the motive has vanished from the world again. But this is not a matter of a drastic distortion of the vision or of the world in general—most of it appears as it otherwise normally does. A snapshot arises after having stared into the sun for a few seconds. The seconds are elongated; they turn up on the other side of the eyelids. Hereafter, the sun flickers as an afterimage on the retina, a kind of vision’s non-sight—a portal for a necessity of the uncertain.
Let that which comes come: the network of thoughts, of shadows, of visions, of grief and joy; the tragedy, an invisible maze, which hovers over the head and thunders down every now and then with electrical voltage in the shell, creating a small crack—the pressure alleviates and the rain comes. It’s like how when the rain falls on the ground, when everything becomes softened, that the contours arise—the moment when the relief stands out, a cast of the liberated electrons: the memories, the daydreams, the flickering, the impression, an impression of the sunset.
My piece—primarily sculpture, video, textiles, printmaking—deal with landscapes, home or rather homelessness, language and translation, queer body, the baroque, post-digital afterimages of doomsday, historical events and so on. Material, actions, words, ideas etc that are being picked up having a momentary meaning for a work and then slowly slides and dissolves into another context. All this forming a particular space dragging the spectator into passages alluding shapes, patterns, smashed screens, disruptive elements, hazy details of memories and feelings jumping at us however hard to pinpoint. Form, material and content are interchangeable and part of the same choreography. A wandering in a fragmented scenography of disquiet and doubt: a position where we can gain an overview—a way of navigating.
I work with pieces that, on the one hand, are marked by a formal method, straight on and hard, no strings attached but still keeping the channels open to the poetic sphere. Material is material is material. But if I toss the coin there is a glimpse of the other side, like a Janus head gazing in the other direction. The pieces suddenly resemble something, perhaps a person, a wave, a weapon, an oversized clam. In focus one moment, blurry the next. The perspective shifted.
The works are like foggy landscapes with a mess of horizons and inverted perspectives—mediators between spheres materializing the absent form flowing back and forth laving traces in each other.
We simply have to surrender. We must explore the strangeness that resides within us. The body remembers. In and with our bodies we carry memories of places and the time before us. The sensation of belonging to some place or material, being (of) a material in constant transition a.k.a. I am the material. The broken echoes of the past, things that permeate neural pathways and muscles. The things that which we drag along with us across borders. The fragile border between our bodies and the apocalyptic landscape.
To the stranger the homeland is always out of reach. I am a stranger far from home. I behave accordingly, speaking foreign languages unfamiliar to my body. The work has no index or direction of reading. The stranger always wears a mask, but leaves traces. Traces of shifting shape. Transition becomes a strategy, a way of manoeuvering in my artistic practice. If I speak in tongues will anyone understand?
However, differentiated in form, theme, time the pieces might appear as separate bodies but they are all part of the same processes, one way or another framing a formal, phenomenological and heartfelt interest in the inherent associations and connotations of meaning, matter and material.
But sometimes when I stare at my pieces they do not reply. I try so hard. They just want to be quiet, hovering in the sweet nothing.
© Jóhan Martin Christiansen 2020. All rights reserved.