Johanna Poethig – IMPOSSIBLE MATTER: THE NEVER REPEATING PATTERN OF LIMITLESS POSSIBILITIES

October 24 – November 30, 2019


This exhibit is a quasi-fictional account of Impossible Matter in the form of paintings, sculpture, fabrics, prints, text and song. Impossible Matter provides the space for what artist Johanna Poethig wants to make possible. Building on previous work that used mathematically generated images of plant-growth algorithms to create parastichy anti-facial recognition masks, the ability to camouflage ourselves as rocks is examined through the exotic spatially complex icosahedral quasi crystal. The impossibility of its atomic arrangement in which all the available space is filled but never repeats revolutionizes the ability to manipulate matter for a science fiction-like invisibility. Fascinated by the visual beauty and infinite potential of perfectly ordered but not periodic patterning of quasi crystals or “impossible matter” a new epic is imagined.

The star of this story is the 4.5 billion year old naturally formed extraterrestrial quasi crystal meteor Icosahedrite, found in the Kolya Mountains of Russia. In the post-truth Anthropocene all the species of our planet are in the crosshairs of climate change denial and the rise of AI. In response Poethig blends science and art to tease out the implications of the quasi crystal capacity to make us invisible to the authoritarian uses of technology by cloaking our bodies with the patterns, diffractions and wavelengths that make up the cosmos. In this epic, instead of destroying the planet homo sapiens merge with plants, rocks and the extraterrestrial meteors of their geological layer. Playing with impossibility provides a new space of imagining an alternative to the Anthropocene, redirecting the light to create the camouflage of a miracle. Ceramic Space Rock Nuggets, Quasi Crystal Camouflage Fashion Tubes, Forbidden Symmetry Sun Glasses, Human Diffraction paintings, and the storyboard for QUASI the Extra-Terre-Strial Style Zine are assembled in this exhibit. In this unfolding epic Poethig explores nature, science, politics, the body, space and time.

JOHANNA POETHIG is a contemporary artist known for her monumentally scaled murals and architecturally integrated public art, socially engaged collaborations, painting, multi media installations and performance. Her work is conceptually driven using image, text, symbol, and narrative to address critical social, cultural, and political themes. In contrast she explores nature, science, perception and the mystical, drawing visual ideas from predictive practices and mathematics.

Johanna grew up in the Philippines and has been active in Filipino-American arts community since the 1980’s. She is currently Lead Artist on a major public art project for 34 AC transit Stations along a 9-mile transit corridor from downtown Oakland to San Leandro. She just completed a large-scale mosaic for Rainbow Recreation Center and mural for the new College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences building at CSU, Monterey Bay. Her recent shows include the 40 year anniversary exhibit and performance for The Hole at SOMArts Gallery, Way Bay Artist Postcard collection of the Berkeley Art Museum, Songs for Women Living With War memorial project at Pro Arts Gallery, Making our Mark at Richmond Art Center, Glamorgeddon: The Spectacle at SOMArtsGallery in San Francisco, Manila Trans(ie)nt in the Philippines.  Poethig received her MFA at Mills College and is Professor Emeritus of Painting and Public Art at the Visual and Public Art department at California State University, Monterey Bay.

Selected Images