Jasmine Johnson works between documentary and portraiture, using video, CGI, binaural audio and installation to access the universal through the guise of the singular. Recent work explores modes of escape and wildness as a progressive prospect, playing to the propensity of individuals and societies to consult the ‘then’ and ‘there’ for clues for how to negotiate the ‘here’ and ‘now’. Social interactions are material to work with and through - sometimes in order to agitate these relations towards unknowable outcomes. A series of video portraits have stemmed from encounters with individuals in different locations (London, Moscow, New Delhi, Vilnius) who became central characters. She holds an MFA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths and a BA in Fine Art from Nottingham Trent University where she now lectures. In 2017, along with the alt.barbican project, she will be in residence at Rabbit Island, USA with Rachel Pimm.
Thieves and Swindlers are not Allowed in Paradise (2014)
Single Channel Video
A camera pans impossibly smoothly from a computer screen through the uninhabited but active central Moscow office of a collector of naive art and a campaigner for life extension. Outside the window, stands The Church of Christ the Saviour, where we are informed Pussy Riot protested. The anthropological tools of the artist - sound recorder and headphones, notebook and pens, sit amongst high end furniture and glassy finishes, hinting at the means of production. The walls are festooned with paintings including those by the utopian naïve artist Pavel Leonov, who himself referred to his paintings as rooms or film sets. The jarring perfection becomes identifiably digital, and moments of synchronicity between a disembodied voiceover and image fix an otherwise outwardly expanding narrative. We see an intricately rendered wood floor and hear that you can spot an imitation artwork because it has a lack of heart. Collecting becomes synonymous with the realm of digital images, capturing every detail becomes fastidious, but also lifeless. The visibly oppressive economic, political and social power structures weigh heavily against the dissident qualities of activism and the outsider. Then we cut to a handheld camera in the riverside home of a British collector where the rural Russian paintings have a different resonance. As the edit and framing of the monologue moves from propaganda, through news broadcast to radio play, context shows itself to be vitally important in the telling of stories.