Esther Johnson (MA Royal College of Art) is an artist and filmmaker working with moving image, audio and photography. She is former recipient of the Philip Leverhulme Research Prize for Performing and Visual Arts, and is Professor of Film and Media Arts in the Art and Design Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University.
Working at the intersection of artist moving image and poetic documentary, Johnson’s portraits focus on marginal worlds and social histories, to reveal resonant stories that may otherwise remain hidden or ignored. Projects include socially engaged work that draws on oral testimony, experience and politics, and how the universal impacts on the individual. Recurring themes include social narratives, personal histories, notions of testament and memory, heritage, folklore, regeneration, and the use of archival material. Recent works have explored architectural vernaculars and the inhabited environment.
Work is made for exhibition, cinema screening and broadcast through individual projects, commissions and residencies, and has been exhibited internationally in 40+ countries. Screening and exhibition includes Barbican, London; BFI London Film Festival; CPH:DOX, Copenhagen; ICA, London; Hull 2017; International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam; Istanbul Biennial; Kassel Documentary Film and Video Festival, Germany; Landscape Institute; NASA, California; Sheffield Doc/Fest; Tate Britain and Tate Modern, London; and Walsall New Art Gallery. Film works have screened on BBC and Channel 4, and audio works have been broadcast on ABC Australia, BBC Radio 4, Resonance FM and RTÉ radio.
Support for her work has included Arts Council England; Arts and Humanities Research Council; animate projects; BBC; British Council; Channel 4; Creative Skillset; DCMS; Film London Artists’ Film and Video Award; 14–18 NOW; Heritage Lottery; National Endowment for the Arts, USA; National Lottery; Radio Arts; Science Museum Group; Screen Yorkshire; Sheffield Children’s Festival; Sound and Music; Sound Bank and Yorkshire Arts.
Johnson has written for several arts publications, has worked as an independent film/video curator, and has delivered time-based media workshops in the UK and internationally.
Work is held in the special collections of British Artists’ Film and Video Study Collection, Central Saint Martins; Science Museum Group; Squeaky Wheel Film & Media Art Center, Buffalo, and Yorkshire Film Archive. Distributors include ARGOS centre for art and media, Brussels and, vtape Toronto.
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