Will We Talk or Shall We Just Gaze is a recent series of text-based photography and sculpture by Janna Dyk. In addition to my reflections on Janna’s work, some of the the commentary on the images below was written by Sophia Alexandrov, Janna’s colleague at Hunter College.
Janna Dyk’s Bio:
Born in Los Angeles and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Janna Dyk’s present base in New York has proved fruitful to her work in interdisciplinary collaboration, photography, sound, installation, writing, and drawing. Currently pursuing a Master in Fine Arts at Hunter College, she is a graduate of Asbury University, has studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, and completed an artist residency in Beijing, China, with Art International Residency Projects. She is the former Center Coordinator at the New York Center for Art & Media Studies (NYCAMS), and was the Collaborative Visual Arts Curator for the 2012 Chelsea Music Festival, which included, among other shows, curating OPEN CAGE: NEW YORK, a 75-person performance at Eyebeam Center for Art + Technology, [ON SILENCE], a group exhibition at NYCAMS, and Silence, an interdisciplinary collaborative performance at the Rubin Museum of Art. She has exhibited her work internationally.
In recent work, words are strung together that particularize dichotomies pervasive in contemporary conversation like : “we are better via Gmail” and “why don’t you screenshot that and I’ll look at it later”, simultaneously embracing and condemning our new modes.
Walking into a recent installation of Dyk’s work, Alexandrov remarked that: “photographs, works on paper, art books, and a wall projection appear as splashes of color floating ethereally in a white cube. The different levels of seeing that are experienced upon entering the space are echoed in the works themselves.”
“Dyk explores the complexities of the contemporary human experience through layering and distortion of relationships among objects, text, and image. Neither the relationships among the exhibited works nor a definitive message are made obvious to the viewer. This confusion is purposeful; Dyk challenges her audience with ambiguity, and her works encourage investigation. Unidentified pronouns appear in text throughout many of Dyk’s works, and raise difficult, thought provoking questions of “knowingness” versus “unknowingness”, “meaning” versus “non-meaning”.
While Dyk’s work is bound up in its relevance to timely conversations, it, at times, is also a less layered interaction between lasting, non-ephemera and traditional techniques as seen in her book stitching.
Dyk’s work can be read as seemingly devotional, each memo and assemblage a deliberate act of speaking or remaining silent which, for a viewer, is very compelling. One is left wondering what she’s thinking in the studio, what she’s felt, and what questions she is posing to us when we encounter work.