Eirik Johnson (MFA 2003) is a Seattle-based photographic artist.
His upcoming Exhibition with Rena Bransten Gallery in San Francisco opens in early November and will feature photographs, backlit light boxes, and original music. The exhibition will coincide with the publication of Eirik’s third monograph book, entitled PINE (Minor Matters Books). In addition to photography, the book will include a limited edition 12-inch vinyl record with original songs by seven other collaborating musicians.
Eirik will also be at SFAI on November 8 for a public artist talk and book signing with Photo Alliance.
Here’s a sneak-peak at Eirik’s new book, PINE, along with a statement from the artist himself:
I am a Seattle-based photographic artist whose work navigates the often-makeshift connections that form at the intersections of contemporary cultural and environmental issues. PINE, is a photographic and music-based project that explores how the transgressive act of tree carving can conjure up sentiments of love, alienation, or even the most basic desire to declare, “I was here. See for yourself”. It’s a gesture, both tender and violent, intimate and with deliberate purpose. The photographs connect with that point in one’s youth when you are full of raw emotion and obsession and want nothing more than to escape into the woods down by the river to remember the name of a teenage flame or the lyrics from a favorite song.
The photographs record my own performative response to these markings and the sentiments they hold. By slowly illuminating the carvings during long exposures at night using fire, moonlight, sparklers, and prismatic light, they begin to allude to dark aquatic ruins, a graffiti-strewn dance hall, or the pigment drawings on a prehistoric cave wall. The tree transforms, taking on the appearance of a lunar surface or the skin of an elephant. The ultimate photographs are a collaboration between those who made the carving and my own engagement with it.
There’s a deep connection to music that runs throughout this project. Some carvings commemorate favorite musicians (“The Smith’s” or “I Miss Kurt”) or lyrics (“The Wild Wolves Around You” from a song by Bon Iver). Other images (“SAVE” or “We Were Here”) allude to potential songs or lyrics. During the making of this project, I kept returning to memories of favorite mixtapes from my youth and the emotional connections they still hold. It’s in that spirit that I asked seven different musicians/bands to compose original songs inspired by either specific photographs or from the project’s atmosphere more broadly. The contributing musicians, Tenderfoot, ELIA, NEWAXEYES, SassyBlack, Whiting Tennis, DEDE, and myself, reflect a broad range of genres and sound.
PINE will be published in Fall 2018 my Minor Matters Books with a companion vinyl record pressed by Cascade Records featuring these new songs.