Rosy-Fingered Dawn

Division Gallery
Montreal, QC
November 22, 2018 – February 2, 2019

“Photography’s greatest virtue is also its most fraught: how is the camera, an inherently objective device, meant to preserve the ephemeral or describe the ineffable? Sarah Anne Johnson’s new exhibition addresses such impossibilities, turning the limitations of her medium into opportunities. Supplementing her photographs with tactile interventions, she revivifies her own euphoric experiences, conjuring the personal from the merely real.

Adorned with neon and gaudy stickers, the new landscapes feel forcedly cheerful. This, Johnson says, is by design. Her prints have always celebrated nature’s grandeur; here, however, in these views of oceans, forests and desert, her environmental conscience probes deeper, the strain of her optimism grown more pronounced and the imagery turned sickly-sweet. Cotton balls exaggerate the fluffiness of clouds. Fields sprout plastic flowers. What might be sublime sunsets curdle, on closer inspection, into cloying overstatement. Johnson is declaring the death of the sublime, describing the ever-narrowing divide between nature, cherished, and nature, mourned.”

For a full press release, click here.


Artist tells story of grandmother’s time in CIA mind-control experiment in new exhibit

CBC News
By Jamie-Lee McKenzie
November 9, 2018

“Wearing a costume that looks like a young man wearing a doctor’s jacket in the 1950s, Sarah Anne Johnson dances slowly with a life-size doll wearing a hospital gown that’s fallen open at the back.

It’s an art installation and performance piece called The Cave, part of an exhibition at the Julie Saul Gallery in New York.

The doll represents Johnson’s maternal grandmother, Velma Orlikow, the wife of former Winnipeg North MP David Orlikow.

“I wanted people to feel empathy for her,” the Winnipeg artist said.

In the 1950s, Orlikow sought treatment for postpartum depression at Allan Memorial Institute in Montreal and unknowingly became a subject in the mind-control experiments of a CIA-funded American doctor.

Patients were subjected to a series of mind-control experiments, including shock and drug therapies and induced prolonged sleep.”

For the full article, click here.

Everything is Connected: Art and Conspiracy

The Brooklyn Rail
By Hovey Brock
November 1, 2018

“In his essay “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” the historian Richard Hofstader labeled entire groups as pathological based on their inclinations to see events through the lens of conspiracy. While his essay has influenced political discourse ever since, Hofstader was wrong about conspiracy thinking as aberrant. To the contrary, it belongs to the quintessential human drive for pattern recognition. Think of it as the conceptual equivalent of pareidolia: the tendency to see patterns where none exist, such as the face of Jesus on a piece of toast. What’s more, actual conspiracies do happen, the Russian hackings of the 2016 election as a recent example. The eighty-three works in Everything is Connected, evidently the first museum show to tackle the topic, look at both sides of conspiracies, real and imagined, from the Vietnam era to the George W. Bush years. Most of the art functions as anti-entertainment, prodding us to wake up and see what’s actually around us. Some—particularly Jim Shaw’s—satirize conspiracy mainstays such as the Kennedy assassination. The most disturbing pieces address conspiracies by authorities who, to realize their agendas, brainwashed their charges.”

For the full article, click here.