BREAKING THE PLAIN

AIRBORNE / HANGÁR

THIRTEEN MINUS ONE

FEAST PROJECT

DIVERS MEMORIES

SIGNATURE

TREED

EARLY WORK

INVITATION

TREED

London Arts Board Award to Individual Artists, 1998

Bethnal Green Open Studio, London, UK

A hunting term used to describe the process of pursuit. The Dictionary definition: v. 1. trans. To drive to or up a tree; to cause to take refuge in a tree, as a hunted animal; hence Colloq., to corner. Also fig. To put into difficulty or ‘fix'.

TREED sets out to examine the persistence and resistance of certain patterns of looking and interaction within family groups.  The project draws from archive 8mm home movie footage shot in California between the years 1963-1970. The work uncovers and sets out to make visible the ‘undirected’ footage that was authored by Johnson’s father – ‘the ‘unofficial’ material that her mother mocked, ignored and dismissed as not fitting into the family picture.  This paternal gaze considered unrepresentative of the agreed familial narrative, consists of documentation of conifer trees and pursuit of her mother’s image. 

Scale plays a part in monumentalising the capture of the ‘missed’ image (mother). The quick moving, protesting subject is fixed.  Seven filmic frames become photographic objects, displayed in sequenced form (1.2 m h x 1.8 m w). In juxtaposition, the trees are stand-ins for the absent subject (father).  The obsessive tracking is emphasised by repetition, and the height of the trees de-monumentalised through scale.  What is seen to be important is measured against what is fleeting. Seven small monitors (14”) are sequenced in the space, each showing a different tree, yet looking at the same action.