The last profile posted on this blog was of an artist inspired by the intersection of East and West. Pia Johnson’s work also engages with this theme, informed by her own multi-cultural background. Inspired by the concept of other-ness, Pia’s work explores questions of identity, belonging and cultural differences in a way that is both open and vulnerable. Pia also collaborates with performance artists and dancers to create stunning imagery of carefully composed worlds.
+ Could you start by introducing yourself as an artist?It’
I am a Melbourne born photographer and visual artist. I guess I’ve always been creative and I think I see the world visually, therefore it has always felt natural to make pictures.
+ Could you describe your work in general and more specifically, the work you have selected for your upcoming exhibition?
My work ranges from taking performance photography to close-up portraits to installation work. Very much based within the arts community, my work is a dialogue with artists and artwork. I enjoy collaborating with other artists, where we get to discuss and make work together using photography. Recently I have begun to do this with a couple of theatre directors, which is very rewarding.
The work I have exhibited are series of photographs, more or less based around a concept or subject. My first major series Who’s the Chinese lady that picks you up from school?, is about capturing a new face of Australia, showcasing a range of half Chinese and half Australians. Other work includes more abstract series Threads and Joss, a series on a Shanghai housing estate being demolished called Middle Kingdom, as well as installation work thus-gone and Hong Bao that delved into ideas around texture, the ephemeral, memory and loss.
Finding Yourself at Home Alone is my most recent work, a series of self-portraits that will be exhibited in July at Stockroom. Created to challenge the common ideas of what being at home is, for example ‘home is where the heart is’, a place of sanctuary and comfort, and examine questions of meaning, isolation, death, and emptiness in our homes.
Continuing my work in portraiture – but using myself as a subject – I shifted the gaze to explore ideas of constructed space, sense of place and the body. In doing so, I hoped to add an element of vulnerability to the photographs, portraying a personal and universal perspective.
Using one apartment and natural light, each photograph depicts everyday routines, belongings and parts of the body; by presenting these familiar environments the work allows the viewer to search for the smaller narratives within each photo.
Finding Yourself at Home Alone is my most revealing work to date; it portrays the intimacy and intensity of personal experience within our innermost environment.
+ What are some themes that are present in your work and why?
Growing up in a mixed cultural family (Chinese Malaysian and Italian Australian) concerns about identity, belonging, cultural difference and diaspora have become strong thematic threads in my work. My photographs are often quiet and still, and hold an element of reflection and/or feeling of absence in the moment.
I am inspired by a huge range of artists, from photographers to cinematographers, sculptors to painters, and I love classical music, Australian poetry, theatre and foreign film which all feed into my work.
+ Thanks Pia.
Pia will be exhibiting her work at Stockroom Kyneton Gallery (98 piper street, Kyneton 3444, VIC) over the month of July.
If you are an artist or designer and have turned your passion into your livelihood, I would love to hear from you and help you get the word out there. Email me at email@example.com
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