Larry Johnson - Gallery One New York New York Thursday, January 13, 2022 | Phillips

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  • Condition Report

  • Provenance

    Margo Levin Gallery, Los Angeles
    Patrick Painter Inc, Santa Monica
    Marc Jancou Contemporary, New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Los Angeles, Hammer Museum, Larry Johnson, June 21-September 6, 2009, 1995, p. 47 (illustrated)

  • Literature

    Johnson's relationship to camp is closely linked to both politics and language. For him "camp has a strong political position, a powerful one, because it changes language." He also stresses the fact that camp and camp language only exist as a product of and response to, a fundamentally discriminatory system. It turns exclusion back on itself. "My relationship to camp is strictly as a secret language," he says. "Its make up and context are meant to exclude. I honestly believe my work is different for gay men of my generation than it is for other people." At the same time, Johnson understands that camp itself may be on the edge of becoming outmoded, citing as an example the migration of the term "drama queen" from a specific subcultural meaning into everyday speech.

    A certain camp repurposing is behind Untitled (A Mensa Halloween), 1993. For a few years, Johnson was for some unknown reason receiving mail from the Los Angeles chapter of Mensa, "the organization for smart people," including their newsletter, L.A Mentary (or Lament, as Johnson refers to it). He became fascinated by the way in which this newsletter for supposedly highly intelligent people seemed to be devoted to petty squabbles, including one protracted argument about a Halloween party. Like most people, Johnson deplores the practice of "air quote" - indicating quotation marks with the hands- but the profligate use of quotation marks here more or less enforces air quotes. "How can the quote on the page become the quote in the air?" he asks himself.

    —from the essay "I had Never Seen Anything Like it" by Russell Ferguson, published on the occasion of the artist's museum survey, Larry Johnson, at The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, September 6, 2009, 1995, p. 46-49