Upright is a new wall-based installation of large-scale cut-outs depicting a watering hole scene in the African savannah. This commission has been developed following a period of research conducted by Jasmine Johnson at Powell-Cotton Museum, Kent, which houses the largest collection of game shot by one man, Percy Powell-Cotton. With no machinery, Powell-Cotton invented ad-hoc techniques to skin and transport several thousand specimens from the remotest parts of Africa to the UK between 1887 and 1939.
For this exhibition, individual elements from the museum’s pioneering dioramas – such as animals, rocks and grass – have been photographically reproduced and reconfigured to respond to the architectural environment of the Project Space. The title Upright refers to bipedalism, the ability to walk on two legs, which in turn is one of the earliest traits to define our human ancestors. The African savannah is the scene from which it is thought humans walked for the first time over four million years ago. Among the animals, a conservationist on a stepladder reaches up to repair a crack on the neck of a giraffe, alluding to the unrelenting processes required to sustain the image of this supposedly uncomplicated world.
Jasmine Johnson regularly employs portraiture and methods in anthropology, selecting individuals, activities and objects for their proximity to global dilemmas and for their capacity to articulate human anxieties. Recent work explores modes of escape and wildness as a progressive prospect, playing to the propensity of individuals and societies to consult the ‘then’ and ‘there’ for clues for how to negotiate the ‘here’ and ‘now’. An ongoing series of video works stem from encounters that Johnson has had with individuals in different cities (London, Moscow and New Delhi) who are then asked to become central characters in the work.
Upright was made by the artist while on the British Council Maker Library Residency at Machines Room.
Project Space provides exhibition and development opportunities to emerging artists offering a small grant to develop new experimental work for exhibition in the unique environment of Café 171 at Jerwood Space, adjacent to the galleries. Since 2004 it has presented new work from artists including Luke McCreadie, Alice May Williams, Paul Schneider, Rhys Coren, Anna Bunting-Branch, Emma Charles, Alec Kronacker, Meg Mosley, Sara Nunes Fernandes, Johann Arens, Matthew Johnstone, Katie Schwab and Jamie George, Ben Senior, Ralph Dorey, Mindy Lee, Patrick Coyle, Gemma Anderson, Annabel Tilley, Alice Browne, and Holly Antrum.
To accompany this work, Jerwood Visual Arts will premiere Jasmine’s new video work, A Perfect Instrument (Kristina), at Genesis Cinema on 25 October 2016. The event is free to attend but booking is required via Eventbrite.