Artopia: Cold Confusion

Getting lost in the fog with Tomiko Jones.

Tomiko Jones worked as a photographer for more than a decade before deciding it no longer suited her. "I felt oppressed only being able to express myself through two-dimensional images," she explains during a coffee break away from her Georgetown studio. "It's hard to be creative if you're really attached to a process," she says. "I started to fall out of love with it [photography] in the digital age."I nod empathetically, even if I'm not exactly following. Jones' striking and often provocative photographs capture subjects ranging from a pissed-off-looking woman dressed as a bunny tromping through Tokyo to people urinating in public across the globe. Her video work shows her engaging in bizarre activities like shaving her entire head.For Artopia, she's transforming a gritty 750-square-foot space in the former Rainier Cold Storage plant into an installation titled "La Traversée" that pays homage to the region of southern France where she spent four months last year. When I meet Jones, the space is still strewn with cloth sails, wood, and cardboard she'd salvaged while dumpster-diving in the neighborhood. In the room's center is a wooden boat she found via Craigslist. Onto the boat's sails, she plans to project footage she gathered in France—insects caught in spiderwebs, origami boats floating across the water, overcast skies."It isn't so much a conceptual piece as it is a physical experience," Jones says. She hopes the final result will emulate a foggy morning. Then she pauses."I wasn't always in love with video installation," she admits. "The whole not knowing if you've walked into the beginning or middle of the piece...then not knowing whether it's 15 minutes long or just the same five minutes repeating itself...It can be very confusing."It's the first—and last—thing she says the entire afternoon that makes absolute sense.

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