A big thanks goes out to Peter Christian Johnson and Ferrin Contemporary sharing their fabulous catalog Poise with C-Library. If you are a member of cfile.campus, view the catalog, or begin your 30-day free trial.
Peter Christian Johnson is interested in the mortality of architecture. In his eyes, buildings are much like people; as soon as they are born they begin to decline, fall out of fashion, and in one foul swoop life is seized. This understanding is carefully incorporated into his process inside of the kiln. You might even say the art happens in the kiln.
Ceramic art is time consuming, demanding, requires a specific know-how. Johnson’s work in particular looks to me like the motherboard inside a computer: mathematical, perplexing, an intricate web of data. Even these images from the catalog feel computer generated to me, and that speaks to their symmetrically. But also, they are meant to resemble edifices: a church, an opera house under construction etc. There is no questions that they took a while to produce. Yet, instead of displaying the triumph of hand and skill, as many of those who work in clay choose to do, Johnson melts them, fires them a little too long, a little to hot.
Its not as if he is reducing them to rubble: the duration and skill are still present. But still he is accelerating the decline of the card towers by spilling ice cream on their tops.
In his catalog essay Glenn Adamson cites Alfred Gell’s story of visiting Salisbury Castle as a young boy, and finding it completely disenchanting, “until he turned the corner and encountered a model of the church built out of matchsticks by a local hobbyist”. Gell attributes this to scale; as a young child he couldn’t comprehend the amount of time and work that went into designing this hulk of a building, but the model was digestible and made use of a comprehensible medium.
Adamson uses this essay to point to our disregard for byproducts of “the machine”, mass produced industry, condominiums, hulks of development. Society is no accustomed to it, rather unimpressed actually. Yet a handmade model of the same building is “enchanting” because it is kind of human.
If you are a member of cfile.campus, view the catalog, or begin your 30-day free trial.