Pressed: When Words Were Earth

Andrew Johnson

A Space Main Gallery

February 25 – March 26, 2005

An interpretative text by Toronto filmmaker and activist b.h. Yael accompanies the exhibition.

US-based artist Andrew Johnson addresses America’s culpability in the violent actions in the West Bank and Ghaza Strip with his installation Pressed: When Words Were Earth. Comprised of photographic murals divided into over 3,000 mirrored tiles, this challenging work situates the viewer, both visually and conceptually within an environment typically designated as “other.”

One mural features an olive grove – a foundation of economic stability in the Middle East and a symbol of peace – which Johnson blockades with barbed wire. Other tiles compose the image of a bulldozer, which cascades onto the floor to create the wake of the bulldozer’s tracks. In the gallery space, he explains, “we are like the Queen of Sheba, caught in an environment that oscillates between the credible and fantastic, the coalescent and dissoluble, the violated and threatening. We are conscious of every step we take, careful and curious about where we tread, apprehensive of the threshold of comprehension and fearful of losing the forest and the trees.” Aside from the topicality of its political subject matter, this emotionally charged exhibition deals with the complexities of interpretation and levels of representation that are at the heart of understanding contemporary visual imagery.


Andrew Johnson is Associate Professor of Art at Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh, PA. His exhibitions address exigencies of daily realities and undress the refined aesthetics of art. Solo exhibitions around the US and collaborative projects abroad target the economic consequences of American local and foreign policy.