Public Parking
A journal for storytelling, arguments, and discovery through tangential conversations.
Erin Johnson’s Queer Ecosystems
Friday, December 11, 2020 | Sophia Larigakis
Erin Johnson’s preoccupation with bringing people together through and in her work stems from her time as a campaign coordinator and organizer for a labour union and as a community organizer for LGBTQ groups. For the installation Salidas y Entradas | Entrances and Exits (2018), Johnson and fellow artist Jessica Hankey facilitated improv workshops —along with applied theater practitioner Gina Sandí Díaz—at three public senior centers for a group of elders in El Paso, Texas. “I was interested in the idea of the public community center as this really important site of care that’s always in a precarious state, because it’s city-funded,” Johnson notes. Her desire to connect people and empower them by strengthening ties is a way of contesting the modes by which capitalism alienates us from one another. Her works Lake (2020– ) and Tomatoes (2020– ) are “also attempts at thinking about collectivity on a non-narrative, purely visual level,” Johnson says. She is heavily influenced by feminist scholar and activist Silvia Federici’s appeal to “reconnect what capitalism has divided: our relation with nature, with others, and our bodies,” and these works foreground queer desire and affinity in nature as forms of resistance to the alienated conditions Federici identifies.