Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Art Space Talk: Leon Johnson

I recently interviewed artist Leon Johnson (Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Theory and Studio- Maine College of Art). Mr. Johnson produces work in film, performance, and site-specific events. He has an active studio practice and is the proprietor of The Long Bell Press and founding member of Creative Material Group. Leon is also a recipient of a Pollock/Krasner Foundation Grant for Painting.

His film Faust/Faustus in Deptford was selected for the KunstFilmBienale in Cologne, Germany, and the Raindance Film Festival in London, U.K. After, another film, is included on The End of Reality, a DVD and fiction anthology published by Chiasmus Press. He recently finished the flim Fortress Boy Bridge: My Ear a Nautilus

Q. When did you first discover that art would be an important part of your adult life?

A. "Understanding the power of the political poster at the age of 9. I spent the first twenty years of my life in Cape Town, South Africa."

Q. Are there any social implications in your art?

A. "I am interested in producing work that produces initiatives. The implication of this is that the work functions as both invitation and provocation. The hoped for outcome is for the production of an initiative in the viewer to self-produce."

Q. Can you share some of your philosophy about art and artistic creation?

A. "I’m interested in understanding the connection between imagined qualities and real qualities in memory and in place. The experience of place I imagine is always both [real and imagined], and the mediating factor between the real and the imagined is representation. That representation is my creative aspiration."

Q. What was your most important exhibition? Care to share that experience?

A. "My film, "Faust/Faustus In Deptford" was selected for the 2003 KunstFilmBienale in Cologne, Germany."

Q.Where can we see more of your art?

A. " http://www.leonjohnson.org/ "

Q. Any tips for emerging artists?

A. "In a culture the seeks to standardize, diversify eccentrically."

Q. Has politics ever entered your art?

A. "To engage in a rigorous creative practice is to simultaneously enagage culture. Politically, socially, spiritually."

Q. Is there anything else you would like to say about your art or the 'art world'?

A. "The creative adventure should include the imagining of public spaces where we gather and from which we embark on an active negotiation of each others’ "foreignness" and through the empathetic transmutation afforded by the performance of narration and listening we arrive at the juncture suggested by Homi Bhabha in his essay Space Agency : "In another’s country that is also your own, your person divides, and in following the forked path you encounter yourself in a double movement... once as stranger, and then as a friend".
I hope that you have enjoyed my interview with Leon Johnson. Feel free to critique or discuss his work.
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin

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