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Charlotte Johannesson

b. 1943, Sweden

Charlotte Johannesson’s practice involves working with both the craft technology of the loom and the digital technology of computer programming, exploring their formal and conceptual connections. Her practice encompasses a range of media including: weaving, painting, digital print and digital slideshows. Familiar with the work of Hannah Ryggen (1894-1970), a mid-twentieth-century Swedish-Norwegian artist who advanced weaving as a medium for social commentary in the lineage of history paintings, Johannesson initially began working with a simplified prototype of Jacquard loom. Formally using the loom as a textile artist from the 1970s onwards, Johannesson’s work from this period incorporated the propagandistic slogans alongside imagery referencing 1960s counterculture, the punk movement and 1970s militancy, critically appropriating a craft associated with the gendered space of domesticity. These early weaves challenged historical connotations of the artisanal technique, transforming the weave into a politicised, communicative tool.

In 1978, Johannesson exchanged a tapestry, I’m No Angel (1972-73), for a personal computer — the Apple II. Johannesson observed, as she says, ‘a great synchronicity between the two machines’ and translated the vertical and horizontal lines of the Jacquard loom to the language of computer programming. Between 1981 and 1985, together with her husband Sture Johannesson, she established Scandinavia’s first microcomputer graphics studio, the Digital Theatre, at a time when graphics programmes did not exist. This digital arts laboratory functioned as an independent platform for both research and artistic projects. Johannesson’s plotter prints from this period express an interest in iconographic motifs, such as her Faces (1981-85) series, as well as cartography, cosmic space and new communicative technologies. In keeping with their formal experimentation, Johannesson’s Texture (1981-86) prints, for instance, evoke more abstract and ethereal qualities by enhancing their fluctuating, pixellated surface. In her more recent development of new, computer-generated weaves, Johannesson continues to challenge the binary between craft and code, surpassing technological and material limitations.

In 2023, a solo exhibition of Johannesson’s work will be shown at Nottingham Contemporary. Johannesson’s survey exhibition, Take Me to Another World, opened at Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid, 2021, curated by Mats Stjernstedt and Lars Bang Larsen. Johannesson’s work has been exhibited internationally, including The 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, The Milk of Dreams, Venice, Italy; HEM (HOME), Malmö Konstmuseum, Malmö, Sweden; Unweaving the binary code — Hannah Ryggen Triennale, Kunsthall Trondheim, Trondheim, Norway (all 2022); Our Silver City, 2094, Nottingham Contemporary, UK (2021); The Blazing World, S|2 Gallery, Sotheby’s, London (2019); Mud Muses, Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2019); Still I Rise: Feminisms, Gender, Resistance, Act 2, De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill on Sea, UK (2019); pressure | imprint, Malmö Konsthall, Sweden (2018); Nordic Pavilion, Venice Biennale (2017); 32nd São Paulo Biennale (2016); Textila Undertexter, Marabouparken Konsthall, Sweden (2016); The Society without Qualities, Tensta Konsthall, Spånga, Sweden (2013); Forms of Resistance, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Netherlands (2007); and Pyramid of Mars, Barbican Centre, London, and Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, and Trapholt Museum, Kolding, Denmark (2000).


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