Speaking personally, there have been few engagements with art comparable to my experience leafing through a copy of Piranesi’s Antiquita Romana. The massive but precious object, which spent most of its time stowed away in a dark, humidity-controlled basement, revealed page after page of detailed compositions illustrating the architect’s dense and at times thoroughly bizarre depictions of ancient Rome. To turn its pages and comb through its images of a city shadowed in thousands of hatch marks was to travel to a mythical Rome, suspended simultaneously in the past, the future and the present. It was almost easy to imagine the monograph as a riveting form of entertainment preceding television and the Internet (and Internet television. Crazy, I know).
In this day and age, when people flock to theaters to watch re-makes of late 90’s films reproduced in 3D, the illustrated book has seemingly lost its grasp long ago. But Swedish artist Andreas Johansson resurrected the medium in his latest solo exhibit entitled From Where the Sun Now Stands, in which he exhibited a series of oversized pop-up books that opened to reveal photo-collages of desolate and industrial areas.
According to CollabCubed, Johanssen, whose work recently made an appearance at the Volta Art Show in New York, has been exploring abandoned, industrial areas ever since his youth as a skateboarder in Vaxjo. The artist cut apart photographs of these vacant lots, crafting fictional new environments within his six-paged pop-up books with simple layered compositions of foreground, middleground and background. Graffitied concrete, wild brush, patchy pavement and rusting metal come together to create miniature, fictional spaces for the viewer’s imagination to inhabit.
[All images via CollabCubed]