In Surface Tension, ethereal images blur the boundaries between illusion and reality, as Joan Kaufman continues her examination of the human presence in relation to the natural world. She constructs her vignettes in the studio using various lighting techniques, textile screens, reflective surfaces, and lenses to create space and depth, ultimately resulting in fabricated, yet familiar, environments. Her process combines organic, low-tech studio processes captured on film with digital scanning and manipulation.
The resulting images contain vivid colours that seep across the picture plane, creating an elusive subterranean depth that speaks to naturally occurring complex systems, such as the roots of a tree or the interior of the body. Pairing these fictional landscapes with the human body creates a nourishing and protective connection, activating a state of flux between physical and psychological space. Kaufman sees these works as targeting collective anxieties regarding people’s arduous relationship with the natural world.
Kaufman has exhibited her work across Canada and abroad. She is the recipient of Canada Council, Ontario Arts Council, and Manitoba Arts Council grants. Kaufman’s work can be found in both public and private collections in Canada, the United States, Mexico, and Germany.