If the photographs of Simen Johan seem almost too good to be true, you’ve gotten the point. Johan’s series Until the Kingdom Comes explores the tension between the ideal and the grotesque, the real and the unreal and revels in the gritty underside of illusion. With glitter, crystal, pearls, beads, taxidermy, bones, cocoons, dead bugs, feathers and masses of hairlike fiber, Johan creates the landscapes of your dreams just as they threaten to slip into nightmare drawing you in by their superficial luminosity. While he works in both photography and sculpture, his photography employs taxidermy and live animals carefully superimposed on backdrops photographed in Iceland, Norway, and elsewhere.
A selection from Until the Kingdom Comes recently opened at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville, Tennessee exhibiting his most recent work along with some of the tried and true members of the series, some of which have appeared in film, fashion campaigns, and exhibits like Dead or Alive at the Museum of Art and Design. If you can’t make it to Nashville, take a stroll through a gallery of his images below.
Simen Johan, Untitled #152. From the series Until the Kingdom Comes. C-Print. 2008 © Simen Johan, courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery. Photo courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery