WATERMELON AND PARABLES, INTERVIEW WITH JOHANNA TORDJAM

A young creative woman, Johanna Tordjman has invested in the showroom Converse last weekend to present her new project “Watermelons and Parables”. Tordjman is a digital explorer and a daring artist, she combines images of Google Street View with paint and neon to create contemporary work questioning our society. Today, she shares with us her story and how she came to use Google as a source of inspiration.

Credits: Johanna Tordjam

Can you introduce yourself ? Where are you from, what are you doing?

Hello ! My name is Johanna Tordjman, I live and work in Paris, and I am a painter, but I am not afraid to try different mediums if they are more adapted to the message that I am trying to convey.

You show at the Converse showroom your new project, called “Watermelons and Parables”, why did you choose this name?

I scoured the platform for months looking for captivating images on Google Street View, and my favorite destinations were West Africa and Latin America. In those countries, there were a lot of watermelon sellers on the roadside and a lot of parables on the windows. One day, I was crossing Tunisia and I came across an image where the two were together, I found the name funny, I do not always intellectualize everything (laughs).

Credits: Johanna Tordjam

What is the work of the project you are most proud of?

Ah, it’s not obvious as a question. The work itself is really the screen-printing with neon, it’s something I had in mind for a while to add light to my work, but it always seemed to me uncomplicated, or not the right time. Finally we did it, and I’m really happy about it. If not my best screenshot, it is in Saint-Louis in Senegal, I have also made a painting, two women who walk near a mosque, the picture is incredible.

Have you always been into painting? Or did you go through other ways before devoting yourself to it?

The painting arrived a little late in my process, I always drew, I started by reproducing Pokémon in the small room of my grandparents’ house. My favorite was Salameche. But otherwise I did studies of visual communication, I became a graphic designer, then DA, I made calligraphy for pretty cool brands, I went through music too, before all that. I always created things, and the painting imposed itself on me at the beginning of 2016, we can say that it saved me.

Your uncle lives in Los Angeles, did America have an influence on you as an artist?

I come from Créteil, and it was not there that I was taught that being an artist was a job. I spent a lot of time in LA, and I think that undeniably that had a link on my vision of things. The mentality is different, but not better. The people I met there always came from “nothing”, the meritocracy really has its place, the field of possibilities looked bigger. I realized that I had the right to do absolutely anything I wanted and that if I was the first to believe in what I was doing, then the rest would follow. And for now, it does not look too bad.

Credits: Johanna Tordjam

What is your creative process?

I’m on Google Street View, I go according to my clicks, and I’m looking for the beauty of everyday life captured without intention to make beautiful. I have a base of screenshots as huge as you can imagine … Then I paint them, I assemble them, I compose them to create a canvas. Act 1, which I presented at Converse is called Internet Explorer, so it was really based on the exploration of the 2.0 world, as it is. For the future, I build stories, I make their identity to all these protagonists blurred, so there is a real work of imagination, even scripting that comes between the screenshot and painting.

Future projects?

The exhibition is cut in 3 acts. There is act 2, which is coming up for the end of the year, it will be announced soon, and act 3 for 2020. Painting always, and video more and more. A movie itself.

*Interview originally in French*

Article by Katie Chaplin 

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