Charles Johnstone in an American artist
Episode 177: Charles Johnstone is an American artist working with photography who publishes books with New York’s SUN.
I have known Charlie for some time. I have covered his work for American Suburb X and feel lucky to have nearly all of his books. He is a generous individual with an insatiable desire for producing beautiful photography books. His interest in Polaroid and the New Topographics has led him to create incredible books of a highly personal nature such as MacArthur Park and The Girl In the Fifth Floor Walkup that he made in collaboration with actress and writer Heather Malesson.
Charlie has a number of conceptual elements that he pursues in his work. In reference to the New Topographics, Charlie has made several bodies of work that deal with typological content such as his court books Sixty By Thirty and East Court. He has also photographed storefront churches in New York- a body of work that would be great to see republished. He has also collaborated with Aaron McElroy on the impactful Briney Breezes.
In writing about Charlie’s work, one of the several bodies of work that I have gravitated to on a personal level is his series of polaroids that examine nostalgia and yearning. These books, Red Shoes, Setsuko Satyonara, and Ciao Monica deal with a particular type of fascination between the television screen and youthful desire. The icons featured in the work are trapped in the amber of time and suggest an almost paralyzing and haunting effect when considered in series. There is something resonating between these screen memories and the viscous drip of outdated Polaroid film that add layers of beauty coupled with an uncanny presentation of loss.
Please tune in. Charlie and I discuss his background with photography and sport, but also delve into a number of very personal topics that resonate within the work. It is an honest and at times raw conversation that suggests openness and honesty that is reflected in the work.