In many ways, I am a sincere documentarian. I tell stories through image and text. Vernacular objects and the people to whom they belong are often at the center of my work. I employ sterility and borrow from bureaucratic arrangements of information, perhaps at the cost of the visual intrigue, to assert that these simple and often regional stories have been carefully recorded and formatted to persist. I critique and embrace the unquestioned authority of well-structured documents and particular arrangements, the arbitrariness of systems. There is not a sound binary between chaos and order. It is a practice of making visible the fractured banality of the lower-middle class: the class of people who are almost exclusively victimized by documents—bills and social work. There are seldom human interest stories clipped from the newspaper and posted to the refrigerator. Goings on in their communities go unreported entirely. People are unlikely to take interest in themselves at a time when introspection is a privilege, but self-mythology is a far cry from the tangibility of one’s own personal history. My work is made with a dedication to tedium that, at times, oppresses viewership. Labor is required on behalf of the viewer so that the richness of the stories do not get lost in their formal containers.
Jacquelyn Johnson is a nailbiter and hair twirler from Western Pennsylvania. Her work celebrates and parodies pedanticism. She continues to live and work in Pittsburgh after recieving her BFA from Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Art.