Anna Elise Johnson: Slantwise, Otherwise
Window into Houston at 110 Milam Street
Commissioned by Blaffer Art Museum
November 13, 2013 – January 29, 2014
For Slantwise, Otherwise, Anna Elise Johnson introduces images of four international and influential public figures: Deng Xiaoping, Margaret Thatcher, Vladimir Lenin, and Ronald Reagan. Similarly posed and iconic, the subjects’ depictions appear as photographs and as monuments, suggesting their solid yet possibly indeterminate and unstable status. The work is mounted on Plexiglas panels made to fit each window frame and overlaid with a pattern of black stripes, which visually connects the individual images and introduces a sense of movement across the four window panes. The optical effect is heightened by the fact that the panels are leaning at an angle toward the street, forcing the viewer to reassess their position vis-à-vis the images and figures as they stand or walk in front of the windows.
Slantwise, Otherwise considers our relationship to historical knowledge construed through images and monuments of power. The work’s form disperses the governing authority of figures in our shared cultural consciousness by allowing their familiar images to simultaneously cohere and fall apart. Highlighting the act of seeing as an embodied activity reliant upon movement, Johnson puts the viewer in charge of deconstructing and reconstructing imagery and its possible memorialization.
Curator: Amy L. Powell with Claudia Schmuckli