PRIVATE VIEW 19th of July 2017
6:30 - 9:00PM
20th of July – 2nd of September 2017
A giant eye, staring out at you, layers of frames, fingers clawing out of a young boy’s portrait. They are presented to us in overlapping image panes, a kaleidoscopic vision of deconstructed portraits. Elsewhere, pictures are embedded in foamy concrete, blocks of grey stone standing on spindly legs like totems. A boulder endlessly pushed up and down a quiet street, a Sisyphean feat of rebellion against the man-made constraints forever taking over nature. It is precisely here, at the junction where man and nature collide, that the works of artists Jonny Briggs and Evy Jokhova meet. The Manicured Wild (20 July – 2 September 2017) at Kristin Hjellegjerde, brings together the place where both disparate artistic practices meet, as each investigates the relationship between the manmade and the natural, old and new, and our desire to control the world around us, whether through landscaping and architectural interventions, or constructed realities, where truth and fiction merge.
The works of Jonny Briggs often touch upon around the blurred boundary between the body and the landscape, a strange in-between state where bodies merge with their surroundings. “The gaps in history shout louder than the facts,” he explains. “I notice how we may project into these gaps our own fears or desires, generating stories that evolve into folklore, blurring the boundary between what is real, and what is fantasy.” This estuary of the natural and artificial is explored through the body of work he presents in The Manicured Wild. Briggs probes our need to create artificial versions of nature – as seen in wallpaper, greengrocer grass and laminates, or as smelt in air fresheners, perfumes and candles. For him, it is this phenomenon of nature, controlled, that enthrals him.
As such, his photographic works appear as if they have been digitally manipulated as montages of different visual realities, yet closer inspection reveals them to be more real than one at first assumes. The Hanged Man, for example, presents us with a kneeling figure, yet that is only part of the sum of the many parts he is composed of. His eye, like an Illuminati symbol, dominates the foreground, his body grey against the vibrant green of an unruly woodland. It seems like a clever trick of Photoshop, yet the more one looks, the harder it is to discern what is photographic montage and what may actually be real. “I seek to create uncrackable puzzles, in terms of how missing parts in the photographs relate to the objects they are presented with,” he explains. “The object can't complete the photograph; the photograph can't complete the object.” As such, he works with the fragmented body; in particular those parts which relate to senses (eyes, nose, mouth, ears, hands), symbolic of the ways in which we recreate nature to our own tastes – artificial sights, sounds and flavours.
Meanwhile, Evy Jokhova’s practice is research-driven by investigations into relationships between things, the creation of social systems, and how social behaviour can be altered through architectural construction. Exploring social narratives and remembered ‘truths’, she questions her own subjective role in and relationship to society, history, landscape, architecture and public ‘signifiers’ such as monuments. “We often render most things to become representations of our ideals, and not what they actually are,” she says. As such, she is interested in humankind’s relationship with history, anthropology and architecture, and how they metamorphose into myth over time, adapted as we tailor them to our contemporary needs. “Materiality is important to me in relation to culture, nature and artifice,” she explains. “I look at how and why we maintain an attachment to particular materials and architectural features and why we are constantly seeking new ways to synthesize and mimic old ideals.”
Series such as Templates (comprising painted linoleum-flooring panels, polystyrene, foam and print), explore these notions of materiality, representation, visual appropriation and mimicry (in this case, of stone), and how they are re-appropriated into contemporary Western culture. Totems/Cairns, similarly, probes the cultural significance of stone and the relationship between social relics, sacred objects, and assemblages for pilgrimage – and how found and crafted objects are positioned as artefacts. The Manicured Wild will also involve a performance element, as Jokhova creates a giant rock sculpture, Sisypha. Strapped to a plywood board, it will be wheeled once a day up and down the gallery’s High Street, a metaphor for the human migration, for the struggle over land, finding one’s place, and how place can migrate within collective memory. The work also touches on the current plight of artists who are pushed of out cities due to gentrification and rise of property prices. “Referring to all types of migration, economic, political, geographic, historical, Sisypha is simultaneously ‘home’ and ‘no place’ being carted around,” says Jokhova. The Sisyphean feat of endless movement extends to the ceaseless tasks of gallerists who take on these artists and their baggage, taking it to and from art fairs, temporary commissions, sculpture parks and so on. Encapsulating history in stone, the work references the eponymous Greek tale, and the human plight of endlessly working to conquer nature (both human and environmental) and our constant striving to perfect ourselves – that endless, hopeless task of seeking to manicure the wild.
“The Manicured Wild” runs from 20 July – 2 September 2017 at Kristin Hjellegjerde
Information for journalists:
About Jonny Briggs
The work of Jonny Briggs uses photography to explore his relationship with deception, the constructed reality of the family, and to question the boundaries between child/adult, self/other, nature/culture and real/fake in an attempt to revive an unconditioned self, beyond the family bubble. Although easily assumed to be photoshopped or faked, upon closer inspection his images are often realised to be more real than first expected, involving staged installations, the cartoonesque and the performative. Briggs received his BA in Fine Art from Chelsea College, University of the Arts London (2008), followed by his MA in Photography from the Royal College of Art, London (2010).Recent group shows include At Home She’s a Tourist, curated by Tom Lovelace, Copeland Gallery, London; From Selfie to Self Expression; Saatchi Gallery, London and This Is Not A Curated Exhibition; Galleria Ramo, Lugano, Switzerland (all 2017). Selected solo exhibitions include at the Photoforum PasquArtPhoto Museum, Switzerland (2017); Comfortable in my Skin, Marie-Laure Fleisch, Italy (2015); Monstrares, Julie Meneret, New York (2014); Familiar / Familial, FaMa Gallery, Italy (2012). Awards include the 2017 Archisle International Photographer in Residence Award, as well as nominations for the Paul Huf Award, Ibero-American Arts Award and the UK/RAINE Art Prize, organised by the Firtash Foundation and Saatchi Gallery.
About Evy Jokhova
Born in Switzerland, Evy Jokhova has lived in Austria, Estonia, the USSR and Russia, she is currently based between London, UK and Tallinn, Estonia. A graduate of MA Political Communications, Goldsmiths College (2013) and MA Fine Art, Royal College of Art (2011), Jokhova is the recipient of the RBS Bursary Award (2016), Royal Academy Schools Fellowship (2016-ongoing) and Arts Council Individual Grants Award (2012). Residencies include Belvedere Museum, Vienna, Austria; BijlmAIR, Amsterdam, Netherlands; Villa Lena, Tuscany, Italy; Nida, Lithuania (all 2017); das weisse haus, Vienna (2016) and Florence Trust, London (2008-09). Solo exhibitions include Towering in the conditions of fragments, Passen-gers, London, UK (2017); Staccato, site-specific installation in the chapel at House of St Barnabas, with Marcelle Joseph Projects, London (2016) and Mimesis (with Amelia Critchlow), site-specific installation in the Westminster Reference Library, London (2015). Recent group shows include Architecture as Metaphor, Griffin Gallery; First@108: Public Sculpture Award, RBS and No-one lives in the real world, Standpoint Gallery (all London). Jokhova is also the founder of Allotment project – a platform that explores social relationships and cultural politics through food. Jokhova’s work is held in the public collections of the British Government Art Collection, UK; Lafayette College Library, USA; Royal College of Art, UK and Royal Shakespeare Company, UK.