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Leslie Johnson

Leslie Johnson: Days to Go

Project and Exhibition:
September 10 – 20, & 23 – 27, 2012

Forever & Today, Inc. presents Days to Go by Swedish-American artist Leslie Johnson. The exhibition features a new video installation that symbolically and suggestively articulates the anticipatory mood of United States politics leading up to the 2012 presidential election. At a time when employment, job renewal, and the economy are in focus, Johnson examines systems that control our evaluation of job performance. The title, Days to Go refers to the countdown to the political, economic, professional, and personal transformations implied in the electoral season.

Operating as an employment counseling office, Johnson, who has worked in both entry-level and managerial jobs in the United States and Sweden while supporting herself as an artist, accepts drop-in visitors seeking her job counsel, using a set of cards based on the life cycles of the dragonfly, a motif featured in her video installation. The dragonfly's meaning varies according to the cultural context in which it lives, but its broad associations with change and renewal are especially relevant to Johnson's project. With its short life, the dragonfly must live life to the fullest, and Johnson's card readings are meant to help her clients develop a roadmap for making changes to do just that.

Johnson’s project serves as a departure point for new work developed in response to the employment consultations, to be presented at a closing event on September 27. Days to Go metaphorically and literally provides the public with a space for reflecting on the utility of work and how to reconcile our desire for change with the need to survive in an unstable economy. This exhibition builds on Johnson's recent projects that have consisted of thematic suites of watercolors and sculptures that record our coexistence with the world of objects and products. Through the process of re-imagining the overlooked and ephemeral, Johnson reworks small objects, ephemera, found images, and fragments of text from daily life into significance, inviting reconsideration of their symbolic status and value.

Leslie Johnson (b. 1955, Illinois) lives and works in Bärfendal, Sweden. Johnson received her BA from Connecticut College in 1978, and continued studies at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, and the New School for Social Research, New York. Her work has been exhibited in Moscow, New York, and widely in Scandinavia, where she has worked at the Valand School of Fine Arts in Gothenburg, Sweden as an educator, researcher, and Director. Johnson has had solo exhibitions at 1 Shanthi Road, Bangalore, India (2012); Galleri 54, Gothenburg, Sweden (2005); Borås Konstmuseum, Sweden (2004); and Galleri Paletten, Gothenburg, Sweden (2001). She has exhibited work in public places throughout Sweden such as Gothenburg Azalea Park (2011), medical centers in Hunnebostrand (2011) and Strömstad (2012), libraries in Kungshamn (2000) and Falun (1998), and the Gothenburg-Landvetter Airport, among others. Johnson has produced self-published artist books and publications since 1984, and has been published in Swedish art journals Ord & Bild, Paletten, and Art Monitor, among others. She received awards from the Swedish State Arts Council, Society Gnistan, and Residencia Internacional de Artistas en Argentina in Buenos Aires (RIAA) in 2010, and her work is represented in private and public collections, including the Swedish State Collection, West Sweden Region, Borås, Västerås, and Gothenburg Art museums.

Sara Reisman is Forever & Today Inc.'s Guest Curator 2012/13 and the Director of New York City's Percent for Art program that commissions permanent public artworks for newly constructed and renovated city-owned spaces, indoors and out. Recently commissioned artists include Mary Mattingly, Duke Riley, Roxy Paine, Odili Donald Odita, Julianne Swartz, Terence Gower, and Karyn Olivier, among others. Reisman has curated exhibitions and projects for numerous institutions, non-profits, and other art spaces including The Cooper Union School of Art, New York; Smack Mellon, New York; Queens Museum of Art, New York; Socrates Sculpture Park, New York; Philadelphia ICA; Museum of Contemporary Art, Banjaluka, Bosnia and Herzegovina; and Kunsthalle Exnergasse, Vienna, Austria, among others. She was the 2011 critic-in-residence at Art Omi, an international visual artist residency in upstate New York.

Leslie Johnson: Days to Go is curated by Sara Reisman, F&T, Inc. Guest Curator 2012/2013.

Special thanks to Linda Donald, Alice Gottesman, Lydia Johnson, Louky and Bart Keijsers Koning of LMAKprojects, and Valand Academy, Gothenburg, Sweden.