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Breaking the Plain 2009

By Christy Johnson

Abstract

Installation work as part of the event 'Migration Song'\ud MAMÜ Gallery, Budapest, Hungary\ud Event opened by the presentation of a text by Yugoslavian \ud writer and artist Szombathy Bálint\ud \ud Interview ‘Csalad-Barat’, DUNA TV, Budapest, Hungary\ud (Boldizsar Csernak-Risko, Christy Johnson, and Conor Kelly)\ud \ud \ud “As a building type, both rural and urban, the grain elevator has provided a source of inspiration for architects and artists alike. From the European architects who first noticed them at the turn of the century to the generations of American artists who still document them, all have continued to renew the meaning of the elevator through their work. American artists, in particular, developed a certain way in which they recorded the elevator. They emphasized the elevator’s context, whether rural farmland or urban industrial landscape, and its identity as an American object, thereby setting themselves apart from the Europeans who were interested primarily in the building’s form – a quality that transcends cultural boundaries. Both groups of artists, however, strove to extract the spiritual essence of the grain elevator, without altering its integrity as an object, and transformed it from a common vernacular structure to a building of iconic stature.” Aldo Rossi\ud \ud BREAKING THE PLAIN takes as its centre an image of a model – a representation of the generalised form of the rural wood elevator that has been lost over time. The family albums accessible to Johnson offered up numerous and varied photographs of elevators built by her grandfather. His movements across the Great Plains can be plotted via inscription and recall. Working from one of the images in the archive, Johnson has created a flat-pack, collapsible, portable elevator that provides an opportunity for ‘performances’ and narrative constructions. The monumentalized and iconic structure of the elevator is reduced to a domestic scale – photographic and architectural sizing provide the arena for showing, telling, journeying. Filmed on super 8, the flat-pack is assembled and flattened alongside a recording of Johnson and her father discussing the location order of the constructions. This work opens up a triangular dialogue between image, object, and the body and sets out to explore how the vernacular document becomes a site for re-enactment, and draws attention to the instability and fragility of structuring memory

Year: 2009
OAI identifier: oai:kultur.ucreative.ac.uk:620
Provided by: UCA Research Online
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