Eirik Johnson | The Light That Gets Lost
Exhibition: November 11, 2023 - January 20, 2024
Artist Talk: January 13 | 2pm
Koplin Del Rio is pleased to present "The Light That Gets Lost", an exhibition of photographs accompanied by a sound installation by Seattle-based artist, Eirik Johnson. This is the artist’s first solo exhibition with the gallery. The installation features photographs from the artist’s "Barrow Cabins" and "Arctic Ocean" series'. The quiet, uniform diptychs invite the viewer to observe and respond to opposing images, and serve as an illustration of Earth's powerful transformative nature, and the necessity to preserve these critical environments and shift the course of climate change.
“These photographic diptychs depict seasonal hunting cabins built by the Iñupiat inhabitants of Utqiaġvik (formerly known as Barrow), Alaska as seen through the extremes of the Arctic summer and winter. The cabins are situated on Point Barrow, an isthmus at the Northernmost stretch of the United States, along the shores of the Chukchi Sea, part of the larger Arctic Ocean. Families travel to the cabins to hunt for waterfowl in the summer and bowhead whales and seals in the winter.
'Barrow Cabins' is an extension of my continued interest in shifting cultural and environmental modes of improvisation in the face of environmental change. Each structure has been fashioned out of whatever makeshift materials are on hand, from weathered plywood to old shipping pallets collected from the nearby- decommissioned U.S. Navy Base, which has itself been refashioned into a hub of climate change scientific research.
Children’s swings are rigged from two by fours and plastic milk boxes, while old school chairs and car seats serve as patio furniture. Scraps of carpet and particleboard become footpaths across the loose ocean gravel and spongy permafrost tundra. I first photographed the cabins in 2010, in the midnight and early morning hours of the Arctic summer when the sun hangs almost perpetually at the horizon. The hunters were gone, their cabins and the hunting grounds empty.
In December 2012, I returned to photograph the cabins during the frigid grip of the Arctic Winter Solstice, when a brief four-hour window of dusk-like light illuminates the otherwise lightless days. The resulting winter images act as a sort of "negative" or luminous white erasure of the photographs made during the summer. Seen together, both the summer and winter series are a meditation on the passage of time and the fragile seasonal shift along the extreme horizon of the Arctic.”