Johanna Lettmayer is an Austrian artist based in Bergen, Norway. She studied art history at the University of Vienna and Fine Arts at the Academy of Art and Design in Bergen. Johanna Lettmayer invents performative elements and text pieces that she discretely inserts into familiar settings. She questions and re-interprets the format of lectures, extracts meaning from nonsense and directs attention by slightly disrupting what usually goes unnoticed. Her works operate between convention and the dissolution of conventions and make distinctions between real and staged, art and non-art difficult.
During the residency, we, Rhiannon Inman-Simpson and Johanna Lettmayer, continued a conversation that we have established between our artistic practices since 2015.
The starting point for our project was our text-production. We both experiment with narration as a means to note and merge the relationship between our surroundings and personal observations. In each other's work we recognize a similar intense engagement with daily practices and methods of registering - but with very different interests and outcomes. While Rhiannon is fascinated by wide open landscapes, mapping and solitude, Johanna is drawn to intimate, closed spaces. One is stretching out the narrative, evoking a feeling for the passing of time and spacial distances. The other operates in a claustrophobic mind set, in spaces where not only things but also language is piling up and accumulates into piles and dense rhythms. Collecting, list making and a play with fragmented language are important in both practices.
We continued our conversation through the mediums monoprinting and letterpress. We consider both techniques specifically valuable to our project as they mirror the similarities and differences we find in our artistic approaches.
Monoprinting relates to Rhiannon's practice through its closeness to painting, allowing a quick and playful exploration of colour and form. The letterpress evokes a dynamic between order and chaos, as it can both be used with great spacial and linguistic fragmentation and freedom or in an obsessively precise manner. Johanna's writing method is based on similar aspects: strict rules on the one hand, and a constant transgression of grammar and syntax on the other hand.
In the Residency we formed Johanna’s text ‘Octopus Office’ by chronologically using the entire wooden letterpress font collection of the Frans Masereel Centre and establish a dialogue between the text and Rhiannon’s monoprints. We printed a large format book whose composition, size and rhythm is in large parts decided by the restrictions of the letterpress (not so many wooden letters, very different sizes), of monoprinting (in a challenging large format and an edition of 5) and of the printing schedule (printing once or twice on 40 pages in 10 sheets within 2,5 production weeks).
The project was presented in an exhibition at Lydgalleriet in Bergen in October 2017. It included the original book and Rhiannon’s voice-recording of the text as well as a video showing the pages of the book as a slideshow.
excerpt of the video: https://vimeo.com/209722467
06.02.2017 - 03.03.2017