Jenny-Marie Johnsen

Abyssal Plain

Abyssal Plain has, like several other of Jenny-Marie Johnsen’s projects, its origin in nature.  It is another good example of how the artist explores a material and how the use of photograpy and video illuminate different aspects in one theme.  The photographs that are the beginning of the series were taken when the artist was aboard a research vessel which was mapping the Norwegian continental shelf from Longyearbyen to 830  North.  By abstracting the theme she emphasises the light conditions and traces of the polar sea.

The video, which is an animation of the photographs, shows maybe even more clearly than the photo series one of the artist’s main focuses through her 25-year career, an interest in the viewer’s position and in weightlessness.  By turning the horizon vertically she abstracts the theme in such a way that the viewer’s position is challenged.  This floating, weightless movement is underscored by the lingering tempo in the animation.  The viewer becomes weightless.

If we look at Jenny-Marie Johnsen’s work as a whole it is clear that she sees herself as a painter not as a photographer or a video artist even if she does not use brushes or a palette.  Ever since the digital picture-manipulating programmes was introduced she has used these tools to investigate different pictorial and formal qualities belonging to the theme, such as colour, value, tone, reflection and the traces and patterens in the landscape.  It is therefore natural to place her within a tradition of romantic and naturalistic painting even if her form of expression is entirely contemporary.


Janeke Meyer Utne