Until the Kingdom Comes

Photography by Simen Johan

‘The kingdom’ refers to whatever it is we might think will complete us, whether that is prosperity, eternity or just a better shampoo. There's the tendency to always look for this kingdom elsewhere (the people on TV seem to have it), but it only comes when we go deeper and discover what we already have and are.

I work on images individually, not as a group, so there's diversity because of that, but I'm also trying to create a world that, like our own, has various things going on. I also like when individual images themselves have many facets—when the boundaries between the beautiful and eerie, or the familiar and otherworldly, or the ironic and the sincere, are blurred.

Technically, my compositions have gotten more elaborate and tedious to make. Some of this is due to me becoming more particular. I've gotten more interested in painterly composition and light as a more central element. Some images oscillate between bright light and dark shadows. There's an image of a rainbow and one of the moon vanishing against the daytime sky. The sculptures also look like they once harbored light. 

I use the methods required to accomplish my desired end result. However, some things that I'm interested in—the nature of perception for instance, or how meaning is constructed—I explore through the process itself.

Life is illusory on so many levels, from the way our ego, desires, fears, memory and culture condition the way we perceive ourselves and reality, to the way advertising and media manipulate us. We also encounter illusion in nature itself—from camouflage to colours and smells that confuse our senses. Nature caters well to our survival, but its objective is not for us to see or think clearly. 

Like many artists, I'm looking for ways to confront the unanswerable questions to my being in this world, and that being has its origins in nature. I'm less interested in what makes us different from other natural beings than I am in what makes us the same.

First published in Volume Seven