Artist Statement


What lines can be drawn between an image of a banana peel left on the ground next to a traffic cone and a video of a folding chair hitting a wall and folding? Each conveys its own brand of humor; one plain to see; the other revealed in the impact of a single moment.  

Finding connections like these are currently my main area of interest — from patterns I have noticed in my performance, video, and installation work of the past two years to those from my original training as a photographer. As I explore this new interest I draw upon the photo theory of The Decisive Moment (Breton) and Punctum (Barthes) as well as ideas from performance art and installations such as the non-event and the Sisyphean task. This represents a broad spectrum and I find that some of my art resides at one extreme while other art lives somewhere toward the other.

To clarify I’ll transfer these terms into words of comedy. Imagine the decisive moment as the impact of a fall, the Punctum as the part of comedy which you have an emotional bond to, the non-event as the moment where the character steps over the banana peel narrowly missing it to build suspense, and Sisyphean task as the attempt to lug a piano up a giant flight of stairs only to have it fall and break at the end.

Exploring connections (such as the banana peel and the chair) has curiously affected the way I view comedy, and particularly slapstick movies. I am interested in exploring slapstick with a critical view while trying not to lose the sense of humor that is central to its comedy.

Alongside this work I am developing relationships with certain objects, imagery or ideas ranging from sunsets (a perfect example of The Decisive Moment) as well as their place in U.S. culture with its connotation of promise and progress. As well the dematerialization of images and to what degree the Punctum can translate when you use your phones inversion mode to create a contact print on silver gelatin paper. I’m also experimenting with ways to collapse time within a space using two photos of a non-event as a way to facilitate one’s association of the past (the photo) and the present (their seeing it). Or in making a sincere attempt to use paper to disguise yourself in the increasingly digital world knowing the sound of the paper will give you away. 

For sales or booking you can reach me at.
john.n.erbach@gmail.com
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