Coco Johnson examines the nude body, cast through a contemporary feminist lens. Challenging her conservative upbringing, Coco's concepts draw on her experiences as a woman relating to body, gender, fetishism, queerness, visibility and most importantly the sport of synchronized swimming. While providing the framework for societal critique, ‘synchro’ is used as a metaphor to analyze traditional gender norms, body hierarchies, and gender power dynamics. Her personal relationship to synchro crafted the way she views the empowered female body and how it interacts with other beings and manipulates space. Coco strives to reclaim the body, its worth, and to renounce any personal convictions of otherness.
As an interdisciplinary artist, Coco's mediums range from ceramic, photography, painting, textiles, and even water. Her work draws on aspects of the surrealist movement utilizing the creativity of absurd imagery and odd arrangement of objects. By layering unconventional body parts together and creating intriguing formations with the body, Coco summons the surreal, and the way the bodies interact and interconnect with their surroundings. The fragmented anatomical configurations allude to elements of visual abstraction and reference the bodily arrangements or patterns observed in synchronized swimming. By grabbing and pulling sections of the body and collaging them together into a visual object, the work becomes centered around the choreographed form and relieved from the hierarchy of body identity. Ultimately, the final object is of bodily origin but is represented in a way that exerts a disconnect from the self.
Using myself as a model, I began exploring the relationship I have to my body and the performative movements of artistic swimming. Being blind within the body suit, the actions I perform depend on mood, physical touch, how I navigate my environment, and the surrounding noise. The blindness furthermore allows me to explore choreography that flows naturally throughout my body. The process partially resembles an interpretive dance.
Long exposure digital photograph series
Fabric, Stuffing, Sequins, Beads, Thread, Wire
The Fountain of Pleasure examines current social and political structures pertaining to gender, class, and power. The work is founded upon the ideologies of the abject and its continual reflection to social order and bodily implications. The fountain aims to manifest the notion of abjection as a way to examine the naturalness of the body and its functionality as it pertains to acceptable political and social gestures. It exemplifies the absurdity of the non-norms and how they should ideally be viewed in the contemporary time of heightened political awareness. The grotesque, or abject, reinforce the most primal and animalistic aspects of survival which have been culturally suppressed while also rejecting the traditional notion of the fountain.
The Fountain of Pleasure
Ceramic, Wood, Copper, Water Pump, Fabric, Stuffing, Human Hair, Sequins, Swarovski Crystals, Beads, Thread, Fur, Wire
Ceramic, Concrete, Steel, Acrylic, Twine, Rhinestones, Wire, Tassel, Netting
Traditionally, one thinks of adornment as ornamentation for the pureness of decoration and beauty. However, I purposefully use embellishing materials in order to directly represent the empowerment of the body and confidence that beauty brings to an identity. Employing ornamentation as a tool, I ‘seduce’ the viewer in with something immediately appealing and striking. This ‘seduction’ brings into question the notion of what is beautiful or attractive and for what reason.
Ceramic, Fiber, Fur, Rhinestones, Sequins, Beads, Thread, Wire, Yarn