Everything Is Connected: Art and Conspiracy

Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York, NY
September 18, 2018 – January 6, 2019

“For the last fifty years, artists have explored the hidden operations of power and the symbiotic suspicion between the government and its citizens that haunts Western democracies. Everything Is Connected: Art and Conspiracy will be the first major exhibition to tackle this perennially provocative topic. It will trace the simultaneous development of two kinds of art about conspiracy.

The first half of the exhibition will comprise works by artists who hew strictly to the public record, uncovering hidden webs of deceit—from the shell corporations of a New York slumlord to vast, interconnected networks encompassing politicians, businessmen, and arms dealers. In the second part, other artists will dive headlong into the fever dreams of the disaffected, creating fantastical works that nevertheless uncover uncomfortable truths in an age of information overload and weakened trust in institutions.”

For a full press release, click here.


Conspiracy, Discounted Histories, and Nostalgia at the Met Breuer

By Tausif Noor
December 17, 2018

“Thickening the air with its pollutive force, conspiracy became a national pastime in late 1960s and 1970s America, particularly surrounding the assassination of JFK and the Watergate scandal. Mistrust of government officials, the ongoing war in Vietnam, the fight for civil rights, and the spread of counterculture had fractured the notion of a unitary national identity; conspiracy allowed the American public to find common ground. Jim Shaw’s UFO Photo series and Martian Portraits(both 1978) recall the fervent spread in the belief of extraterrestrial life in the ‘70s. These cryptic photographs, with their sepia and gray washes, evoke a double nostalgia: the one felt by viewers in 1978, and another that is so apparent now, forty years later. Sarah Anne Johnson’s graphite and acrylic interventions on family photographs, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide and Black Cloud (2008), refer to the CIA-backed MK-ULTRA experimental mind-control programs billed as psychiatric treatment, that were conducted at Montreal’s Allen Memorial Institute. Project MK-ULTRA was investigated by joint Senate hearings in 1977 and widely reported by media outlets. While these facts are acknowledged in the wall labels, the decision to place Johnson’s pieces in the second half of the exhibition alongside Shaw’s UFO photos raises questions about which histories are remembered, and which are routinely dismissed.”

For the full article, click here.

The Cave

Julie Saul Gallery
New York, NY
November 8 – December 15, 2018

“Sarah Anne Johnson has created an installation depicting a cave in which she will both enact a performance and alternatively place surrogate figures representing her grandmother and her doctor. The active installation has evolved from Johnson’s 2009 House on Fire series and is being shown in conjunction with the exhibition Everything is Connected: Art and Conspiracy, 1969-2016 at the MET Breuer, running through January 6th, 2019.

The gallery space has been transformed into an enormous cave structure with the performance taking place within it. In addition, Johnson has created a series of three small porcelain sculptures depicting her grandmother and the doctor that eerily revolve on their bases. Johnson has previously created several installations and performances relating to House on Fire throughout Canada.

This installation has evolved from Johnson’s House on Fire series, based on a personal family story. In the 1950s Johnson’s maternal grandmother Velma Orlikow sought treatment for postpartum depression and unwittingly took part in the experiments of CIA funded American Doctor Ewen Cameron at MacGill University. Patients were subjected to a series of mind-control experiments including shock and drug therapies and induced prolonged sleep. The effects were permanently disabling to her, and have had a multigenerational effect on the entire family. In 1979 a class action suit was initiated by a group of nine patients, and was settled out of court in 1988.”

For a full press release, click here.