Cloud Cover

Joan Kaufman

In Cloud Cover, interdisciplinary Toronto-based artist Joan Kaufman creates ethereal images that blur illusion and the natural world. Working in her studio, Kaufman fabricates elaborate installations using layers of falling textiles and carefully modulated lighting. She then employs the primary tools of studio photography to simulate a fragmented world, revealing the mutual vulnerability of humans and nature.

Cloud imagery manifests repeatedly and in many forms: as an amorphous white mass shaped by a female figure, as a dense focal point in a deserted landscape, and as an inky fog hovering at the edges of the more abstract works in the series.

Several images in Cloud Cover introduce a figure invested with the agency to enact change. Although the figure seems able to alter elements within the landscape, Kaufman’s cloud imagery vies for the title of protagonist throughout the series. This creates a polarity between the figure and landscape, activating a state of flux between the physical and psychological space Kaufman portrays. 

Throughout Cloud Cover, Kaufman targets collective anxiety over the environmental impact of the 21st century. The metaphor of the cloud articulates the futility of humanity’s attempts—so often at odds—to both protect and control the natural world.