18 Wooster Street
Totalities, a “contemporary living installation” by Chris Johanson, was presented at Deitch Projects from September 4 – October 25, 2008. The exhibition presented the artist’s thoughts on contemporary living, involving plants, animals, and people, expressed through a multi-media construction incorporating paintings, sculpture, installation, and musical performance.
When the viewer entered the gallery space, all they saw was a giant checkerboard of skin tones and natural hues, representing the colors of the world. The viewer would then pass through the artist’s natural tunnel and emerge into a “space temple,” which also represented a space ship or a universal time capsule. All the paintings within were representations of the past, the present, and the future. The works were intended to share the thought that time goes on forever in both directions, illuminating the concept that we are here right now, but the things we affect go on forever.
The exhibition’s major theme was the planet Earth and its place in the universe. There is also a meditation on the natural world of plants and animals and how they live within themselves and how they are affected by humans, with an emphasis on recycling. All of the wood used in the exhibition was recycled. Almost all of it came from New York State and most was retrieved from dumpsters near the artist’s Brooklyn studio and from discarded art shipping crates. The artist asked his friends and acquaintances for scraps of wood, endeavoring to give the wood a third life. He used the beautiful, natural history of the wood with all its scars to prolong its life and build an entryway back into nature. Johanson talked about the degradation of the planet and the beauty of the world through his art, reminding people of their responsibilities.
Johanson’s work has become increasingly abstract because “you get to infuse it with whatever kind of magic you want, and its not obvious what you are talking about…you can tell people what kind of rhythm you want, but it’s open to interpretation.” His new figurative work was also more abstracted “so that you can look at the essence of the people.”
Johanson’s exhibitions often involve collaboration with a group of friends. Wherever he lives and travels, he develops a creative community. Jo Jackson and Christopher Garrett have collaborated on some of the paintings and drawings. Kal Spelletich made the mechanical elements of the mobile sculpture about “the gray area of life.”
Writing about Johanson’s work, Carlo McCormick explains the artist’s efforts to “locate the self within the social,” and how he seeks to answer the essential personal question, “How do I fit in?” He describes how Johanson “dumpster-dives through the detritus of the modern world, transforming all manner of refuse into aesthetically recycled speculations on our past, present, and future.”
Totalities was Chris Johanson’s first New York exhibition in six years. His previous Deitch Projects exhibition, Now is Now, and his stairwell installation for the Whitney Biennial, took place in 2002. Johanson was born in San José, California in 1968 and lived for many years in San Francisco where he was a key figure in the Mission District cultural community. He now lives in Portland, Oregon and in New York. Johanson is also active as a musician and a CD compilation of the music that was performed in Totalities was produced to accompany the exhibition.
March 8 - 11, 2018
We will present a special solo project by the artist JR.
Image: JR, Migrants, Walking New York City, 2015
April - May 2018
18 Wooster Street
76 Grand Street
New York, NY 10013
Monday – Friday
10 AM – 6 PM
Tuesday – Saturday
Noon – 6 PM
The gallery reopens with People in April 2018.
+1 (212) 343-7300
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