with new works by ANNA ELISE JOHNSON
LAGE EGAL [former LAGE 3:20]
Danziger Str. 145, 10407 Berlin (View on Map)

  • The title for this show comes from a statement by Georgi Arbatov to Paul Nitze at the conclusion of the 1986 Reykjavik Summit when negotiations for arms reductions and a ban on nuclear testing came to a halt over opposition to the USA’s proposed Strategic Defense Initiative.

    The series of drawings and paintings in this show are based on a detail of a photograph of United States President Ronald Reagan and USSR General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev sitting posed in the Höfði House at the Reykjavik Summit. Between them is a plant and behind them a window with a view of the sea and a mantel upon which sit three small objects. In the digitally archived versions of this photograph, the objects on the mantle are out of focus, pixilated and undefined. To try to ascertain the identity of the central object, I made a series of drawings following the basic form articulated in the photograph as a guideline and filling in what is imperceptible, taking my best guess at what this object could be – whether a socialist realist worker, a Rodin or Degas sculpture, an Icelandic souvenir, and so on. In the three paintings, I depicted this object at a different position on each canvas and then masked off half of the canvas in stripes and re-painted the object flipped horizontally, so that the two layers overlap to create a new form.

    Though the photograph of Reagan and Gorbachev has a pre-established meaning, by focusing on an undefined, undetermined, and possibly banal detail, I attempt to resist the hierarchy of the photograph’s institutionally and culturally codified order. Such photographs are presented as natural and predetermined, obscuring the operations that govern their construction, concealing the regulatory and interpretive apparatus that disseminates them, and concealing the corporate, military, and state powers that benefit from them. In “We Cannot Accept Your Position” I attempt to look at an image from a moment that plays a significant role in today’s neoliberal political narrative to question if it possible to reveal, dissolve or slip the dissimulations of such ideologically structured images.

    Also included in the show are a group of collages that I recently completed at the Tottenham Hale International Studios Residency Program in London. (Anna Elise Johnson)

    Anna Elise Johnson has lived in and exhibited around the United States and in Berlin. She received her BFA at Washington University in St. Louis in 2005 and is currently working toward her MFA at The University of Chicago.

Anna Elise Johnson, \"We Cannot Accept Your Position\", 2011
Anna Elise Johnson, "We Cannot Accept Your Position", 2011