• Chris Johanson talks to Jo Jackson

    Date posted: December 13, 2007 Author: jolanta
    Chris Johanson: When I first saw your work, I saw the little handmade books with complicated folds made out of fragile paper, and stencils that were painted on the sidewalks.
    Jo Jackson: I was so shy about making art. Everything was about being tiny and enfolded or authorless in the night. I was working in a walk-in closet, drawing letters as slowly as a person could. I was compelled to make art and to send it out, but it seemed seriously too daring to endure. Art school made me braver; once I saw that pretty much anyone can make art and will, I became much braver.
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    Chris Johanson talks to Jo Jackson

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    Jo Jackson, Victorious, 2006; ink and watercolor on paper. Courtesy Kavi Gupta Gallery.

    Chris Johanson: When I first saw your work, I saw the little handmade books with complicated folds made out of fragile paper, and stencils that were painted on the sidewalks.
    Jo Jackson: I was so shy about making art. Everything was about being tiny and enfolded or authorless in the night. I was working in a walk-in closet, drawing letters as slowly as a person could. I was compelled to make art and to send it out, but it seemed seriously too daring to endure. Art school made me braver; once I saw that pretty much anyone can make art and will, I became much braver.
    CJ: It had an impermanence to it. Was that conscious?
    JJ: I don’t think it really was impermanent to me. It was destructible, but cherishable. That was conscious. I thought, and still think, that anything might be the thing that lasts way into the future.
    CJ: I feel a groundedness to your work’s content or its energy. It doesn’t feel heavy- handed or aggressive in its surety. For example the Monuments to Failed States sculptures are your representations of failed societies. The installation is about a part of life but is presented as so Zen-like. Another example is the series of wolves painted in a way in which the pack appears almost neutral.
    JJ: I’m definitely interested in the intersection between success and failure. The sculptures were wax and paint representations of monuments built by states that no longer exist—so much strength, success, and power, so much ruin and nothingness. The wolf paintings showed wolves with meat. They were successful but sort of horrible, like happiness was a broken, dead body at their feet, like their own bodies. I have this feeling that manifested power is degenerate; the coin that buys success is the coin that buys failure.
    CJ: I see a philosophy in your work that looks like what you just said. Is that one of your goals?
    JJ: I don’t know. I definitely want to make things and I want to put them out in the world. I like to communicate. I wonder why people like to talk with each other so much.
    CJ: Lets talk about processes in your art.
    JJ:  It seems like I only know just barely enough about my medium to get my piece done. So I’m somehow taking crazy routes around the project all the time, making a bumpy road around a smooth idea. For example in my animated films Victory Over the Sun and Sets I drew the pictures then scanned them into the computer and put them into Flash, where I made them move, but so simply—just the cut-out pictures drifting across the screen. Then I printed every frame out on my sister’s husband’s Xerox machine, and photographed the printouts with a 16mm camera. I felt like I needed every possible mode of depiction and reproduction to make the film. It was like I needed process—density—to get the ideas half-buried right. It’s always that way. Even with painting; especially with painting.
    CJ: Like you need a lot of time to contemplate what you are creating….
    JJ: Yes! I guess I’m still getting enfolded and authorless and as slowly as possible.
    CJ: You read more than anyone I know. What are you reading right now?
    JJ: I’m reading Robert Fisk’s The Great War for Civilization at Night and Doris Lessing’s Shikasta: Re, Colonized Planet 5 during the day; the Fisk book is too heavy to carry in my purse. But really it’s a horrible way to relax and so tonight I am going to knit myself to sleep.
     

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