Exhibition: Stephen Bulger Gallery – Sarah Anne Johnson – Wonderlust

Exhibition Dates: March 1March 29, 2014
Reception: Saturday, March 1, 2-5pmTORONTO, Feb. 20, 2014 /CNW/ – We are pleased to announce our fourth solo exhibition of work by Sarah Anne Johnson, which addresses the psychology and physicality of intimacy. In “Wonderlust,” Johnson intends these photographs to “explore the internal world of sexual intimacy. To show what it looks and feels like. Some of these images represent desires for romance, ecstasy and emotional connection, while others depict boredom, self doubt and personal disappointment.” The impetus of this project was Johnson’s desire to tackle a new and challenging subject. Although intimacy was not commonly a topic of discussion in her own life, Johnson broached the theme with friends; some of whom became early subjects. They, and others, introduced her to people they knew who might consider posing. She travelled to several cities to photograph her subjects in their homes during the day. Johnson followed the lead of her subjects, initially photographing them in the nude, while some couples chose to engage in sexual activity, which she documented with their consent. She then worked with the resulting prints in her studio.

As in her previous series, “Arctic Wonderland,” she uses the photograph as a base for manipulation to fabricate the image. Adding materials such as paints, re-touching inks and glitter, as well as incorporating burning, scratching and gouging, each photograph is a unique attempt to make visual what is felt physically and emotionally while in the warmth of intimacy or the throws of ecstasy.

The interplay between the authenticity of the couples seen in their domestic surroundings and her manipulations of the photograph’s surface are sometimes raw, tender or ecstatic. These additions convey the wide range of physical and emotional experiences of intimacy and sex. They also serve to obscure the identities of her subjects and retain the privacy of these intimate moments; whether escapist, tantric, ridiculous, aggressive or lonely – each piece exposes a deeply personal moment. Johnson explores, critiques and celebrates lovemaking and sexuality as a whole. As an onlooker, we feel the tension between voyeurism, bashfulness and sentimentality.