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Heavy Water

Digital still from Erin Johnson’s Heavy Water.
Digital still from Erin Johnson’s Heavy Water.

Telfair Museums presents a Contemporary Spotlight exhibition with artist Erin Johnson (American, b. 1985), who is creating new work that addresses questions and themes specific to our region and considers what it means to tell the history of a place.

Erin Johnson’s solo exhibition Heavy Water is a newly-commissioned body of work that investigates the social and political implications of South Carolina’s Savannah River Site (SRS), a U.S. nuclear weapons program facility and National Environmental Research Park. Johnson’s video and sound installation explores the relationship between SRS – a key disposition site for weapons-grade plutonium – and the free-ranging, wild dogs that live on the 310 square mile complex. Some ecologists suggest the dogs may be ancestors of the first dogs that entered North America more than 8,000 years ago, and in Johnson’s work this epic ancient timeline converges with another – that of the precarious, untenable future of nuclear weapons and radioactive waste.

About Contemporary Spotlight:

Telfair Museums’ Contemporary Spotlight series is an artist-centered exhibition platform that highlights contemporary art by nationally-emerging artists through small exhibitions and featured loans. These projects are organized and curated in-house and are typically commission-based. Artists are encouraged to respond to place and to reflect the issues of our time. Through these smaller scale projects, which are often an artist’s first introduction to museum audiences, Telfair Museums broadens the museum’s contemporary art program by supporting nationally-emerging artistic voices as a means to foster dialogue.

Contemporary Spotlight exhibitions are organized by Telfair Museums and curated by Rachel Reese, Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.

Artists Erin Johnson and Ken Ueno
Erin Johnson with fellow artist Ken Ueno in Portland, ME, in July 2016 for the production of Fortress Brass by Ken Ueno and as part of Erin Johnson’s project A Long Wait at Fort Gorges.

About Erin Johnson:

Erin Johnson’s work—comprised primarily of video and sound installation—explores the blurred lines between rehearsal and performance; real and imagined landscapes and borders; and perception, memory, and interpretation. She utilizes both fictional and historical narratives to examine effects of queer cross-species relations, communication technology, and the act of searching. She holds an MFA and Certificate in New Media from U.C. Berkeley and is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Digital Media and Digital and Computational Studies at Bowdoin College.