The photographs in Jamie Johnson's new series, Vices, or I Will Not..., comprise an updated twist on the old-timey school-days punishment of writing on the chalkboard; but her titles refer to the crimes of a new generation -- "I will not date actors; I will not play with guns; I will not greenlight bad movies..." Beyond the wry wit of her titles and the modern wardrobe of today's public school hooligans, the photographs themselves form a smart and salient allegory for how the world itself has changed since those allegedly good old days. In a very real sense, these are the opposite of iPhone selfies, and they are as much about the history of photography as the narratives they contain.
The plates' rich sepia tonality telegraphs personal and cultural nostalgia; while Johnson's technical versatility and virtuosity manifest in her use of antique wood cameras and subsequent revisitation of a precarious and extremely analog technical process called wet plate collodion. A certain urgency and physicality is shared by both the schoolchildren writing and the photographer in an 1850's darkroom; and both contact prints and penmanship have disappeared as surely as innocence. As if to underscore the things-past poetry at the series' core, the portraits depict the backs of the children's heads; and we are left to imagine their emotions as well as the nature of their adorable crimes.
Selected works from this series will be on view starting Thursday, March 13 in the gorgeous marble lobby of the Cooper Design Space in DTLA's fashion district.
Thursday, March 13, 4-7pm (sort of during Downtown Art Walk)
Cooper Design Space
860 S. Los Angeles Street
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