Johanna Heldebro

A Good Year For the Roses

April 6 – May 25, 2013

Press Release

Launch F18 presents an exhibition of new work by Johanna Heldebro, featuring pieces from her most recent body of work, A Good Year For the Roses (William Jared Leon: 29 years old, 6 feet, 157 lbs, hazel (eyes), brown (hair)).


Heldebro's often uncomfortably personal work explores notions of obsession, photographic representation and personal boundaries. She is drawn to the forceful tensions inherent to intimate personal relationships, including notions of family, the monotony of the everyday and the shaping of identities within that context. Throughout these studies, Heldebro often engages with conceptions of the outsider, whether it is placing herself into that role through the distance she creates between herself and her subject through a narrative, or also by examining masculinity and specific instances of masculine identity based on an underlying tension of sexual desire.


A Good Year For the Roses... is primarily a photographic archive, initiated as a reaction to an event that occurred on January 10, 2012, and that fundamentally altered Heldebro and her husband's life together. Through photographs, video, text and sound Heldebro has documented and categorized all of her husband's possessions, as an intrinsically futile and desperate effort to hold on to this past life.


Large grids of objects have been separated into categories, either by type or color, and are spread out, subtly implying the person who owns them. Grids of color swatches ranging from black, to blue, to red, to white clothing alongside hundreds of photographs of objects like: razorblades, soap, suspenders, coffee mugs, shoes, and so on. In a second grid of individually framed images, Heldebro shows a selection of tissues containing bodily fluid which she has collected from her husband over the past year, each one meticulously weighed, photographed and dated. Although dry, hardened and yellowed over time the tissues appear soft, in origami-like shapes in the photographs, uncomfortable symbols of her frustrated desire both to possess Leon but also for a keepsake that is as close to her husband's physical essence as she is able to get.


At the core of A Good Year For the Roses... lies personal obsession, and a desire to process information while simultaneously create a true representation of a person based on what they own. Most of all, though, the work is a way to explore, mark, and archive a relationship between two people.


Johanna Heldebro was raised in Northern Sweden. She holds a BFA in Photography from Concordia University (2006, Montreal, Canada) as well as an MFA in Photography, Video and Related Media from School of Visual Arts in New York City (2009), where she was the recipient of the Paula Rhodes Memorial Award for her thesis work, To Come Within Reach of You.... Johanna has exhibited her work in Indonesia, Europe, throughout North America, most recently at the Finnish Museum of Photography in Helsinki (Finland), the 4th Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art in Moscow (Russia), Galleri Box in Gothenburg (Sweden), Gallery Steinsland Berliner in Stockholm (Sweden), and the Khyber Centre for Contemporary Art (Canada). Johanna is the co-editor of Laura, a print arts periodical that she launched in 2010 together with her longtime collaborator Jared Leon.