Individual exhibition – Koening Johnson
Opening: Thursday 24 April 2014 – 19.30 hrs.
From April 24 to May 17, 2014
Conversation: Thursday, May 15, 2014. Sharon Lerner (MALI) – Max Hernández Calvo (Curator) – Koening Johnson (Artist)
This exhibition is built on a remnant: the old parquet floor of the Lima Art Museum is the base material of these works by Koening Johnson. That floor that was walked by countless visitors walking the rooms of the museum, it seems that today we claim their lost memory. The artist “replaces” this ground in an artistic context to locate the history that it contains. These works, made to be traveled, ask us to walk behind the lost footsteps of the spectator. In other words, they articulate a ghost and an anticipation: the viewer who was (past) and the viewer to come (future). But this imaginary articulation is produced by transposing two spaces: the museum-which is referred to by the parquet-and the gallery-where today this material is transfigured into a work of art.
The three instances that interweave Johnson -museum, gallery and work of art- are interconnected by the viewer, or, more precisely, by its displacement over time. Put another way, since these works are made from the old parquet of the museum, the past action of the spectator’s walk on this parquet / museum room, is renewed in the future physical interaction of the spectator with the parquet / (Because they are “interactive” works) and revived in the tacit demand to visit the gallery where these works-made of parquet are exposed. This is the dimension of “exercises”, as the artist calls them: the exercise of “activating” these works of participative nature, symbolically superimposed on the exercise of participating in the gallery and the museum.
These transmutations of the parquet -from useful material to waste material to symbolic material- explore the processes of value and meaning assignment in the art field. Such processes are an aspect of the dynamics between institution, work of art and spectator that the exhibition approaches from different angles. Thus, the installation in which Johnson constructs this quasi-floating floor with the inverted parquet of the museum, locates the instability as his mark, ironizing on the solemnity stereotypically assigned to the category “museum”. Does it, like anyone who warns that if one enters the cultural field, it does so under its own responsibility?
The treadmill covered with parquet invites the question for the direction: where are we going? But, made from an infinite band, that question also concerns the ritual nature of cultural activity and especially its end. The piece in which the curatorial text has been engraved in the parquet and which allows each person to re-configure it at will, connects the free movement with free interpretation. And it rethinks the positions of authority and authorship (critical, curatorial), making a parallel between the game and the search for meanings.
As “exercises,” the works physically mobilize the memory and the idea of the exhibition space -that is, exercise that memory. But they are also exercises under other meanings of the term, because they prove the conditions of reception and the requirements of exercising the occupation of spectators. These works that ask us to walk them, to activate them, to experiment them, ask us about our role as spectators: “how should we respond to the art we see?” And “what causes us to respond or not respond?” In the end, Koening Johnson asks for what compromises the viewer, the exhibition space and the artist, because each of the parties is co-responsible for the existence of the artistic field: a great exercise in collaboration.
Max Hernández Calvo
About the Artist:
Koening Johnson (Lima, 1977) is a sculptor and designer from the PUCP. He has been working with sculptures and experiments of mechanical alteration of bicycles. He has an extended understanding of sculpture as an element of processes and interaction, where he not only exposes himself, but also increasingly includes movement, whether of his own body or of the spectator.