Jonas St. Michael
The Main Gallery . December 7, 2017 – January 20, 2018
Opening Reception: Thursday, December 7, from 7-10pm
Harcourt House Artist Run Centre, 3rd floor, 10215 – 112 St, Edmonton
Bandaneira features a new body of large-scale photographic works by Jonas St. Michael. The title borrows its name from The Bandas; a small group of remote Indonesian Islands that were, until recent history, an important hub of the international spice trade and European colonization and where St. Michael’s project was first conceived.
The majority of the works in this series were later finished during an artist residency in Mumbai, what is today a major contemporary Indian port city and global financial center that serves as a framework to the pictures. In his series, St. Michael draws from the economic and political climate of Mumbai as a source of inspiration and a backdrop that inextricably imbue each of the images.
The large scale-color photographs present an open-ended series of individual works that continues St. Michael’s exploration into the nature of representation and its currency in wider cultural and social contexts. The seeming contradiction of representation coming to approximate social reality, while actually defining social life, plays very much into these works. The photographs present the paradox of the image appearing deceptively real while being inherently a fiction of a ‘real world’.
The works remain consistent to St. Michael’s ongoing concern in subverting the self-evident nature of the photograph by confronting such underlying themes as the nature of spectacle and alterity; both problematic concerns inherent to lens-based media. Bandaneira is a ‘semi-fiction’ or an approximation of sorts, calling into question the stability and authenticity of subject and setting.
Since 2009, I have been exhibiting photographs in a professional artistic context in Canada, the United States and Europe. My practice is mainly concerned with the nature of image and representation in relation to different socio-political structures, institutions, and class distinctions. Excess and deprivation are themes that have served as the foundation for much of my artistic research and inspiration.
My current practice, in particular, draws inspiration from the world of mediated imagery: cinema, TV, advertising, painting, sculpture, different literary models and my own everyday experience. They are worlds that imply desire, commerce and image.
More recently, my practice has shifted to making visual works that are conspicuously constructed with the goal of creating an ostensible reality. I am interested in the meaning of fiction, yet something more than simply the constructing of an imaginary world, but rather a re-framing of the ‘real’; building new relationships between reality and appearance.