Like her critically acclaimed Tree Planting series, Sarah Anne Johnson’s new work, The Galapagos Project, explores the landscape between utopian ideals and the reality of human existence. These new works were taken during two trips while she lived and worked with other volunteers in an agricultural rehabilitation mission on the Galapagos Islands. Johnson, like early researchers, uses a variety of media to illustrate observations of this alleged paradise. Her installation mixes colour and black and white documentary-style photographs that concentrate on realities of regional poverty. In contrast, familiar ideals of paradise are presented through Johnson’s imaginative tableaux that incorporate her figures crafted out of Sculpey. The resulting fragmented narrative enables viewers to reflect on both personal and external evidence of the chasm between aspiration and result.
In Landmarks of Industrial Britain, Carl Zimmerman photographs his fabrications of impossible structures that represent ruins of the British Empire. Zimmerman’s work begins by constructing scale models of monumental neoclassical public buildings that, when photographed, appear to represent real architecture. Although he portrays structures that are seemingly factual at first glance, his intent is tied more to the notion of portraiture than that of fanciful, empirical or critical record.
This series imagines a school of monumental public architecture respective of the political, economic and technological upheavals in 19th century Britain – a country that at the time ruled about a quarter of the earth’s land mass and that Marx felt would be the home of the first workers’ state.