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HOWW to BEHAAYV by Johanna Winters

Exhibition Runs: March 27 – May 16, 2021

Johanna Winters is exploring “HOWW to BEHAAYV” in her new multi-media installation, that includes video, puppetry and sculpture. The aging female experience is an unheard account, particularly between the years marked by the gradual expiration of a woman’s biological relevance. Winters’ work is a dispatch of the anxieties she shares with women about the shame, disappointment, and pleasure of aging. It is a confrontation of the social conditioning that perpetuates the repression of female pleasure.


Through puppetry and video she bridges the genres of performance and visual art as a vehicle to express and give witness to the ways female desire is inhibited, sustained, and diminished over a lifetime. Using marionettes, shadow theatre, sound, and invented phonetics, this work reclaims expressions of female psychic pain and how it is perceived or nullified.


“In her text “On Longing”, Susan Stewart describes the grotesque mask or disguise as a display of “overturned hierarchy” in which the distance between the performer and observer is collapsed. A seductive energy flourishes in this truncated space where object becomes actor and audience is made complicit. Similarly, I engage with puppetry because it evokes a complex sense of familiarity – once animated, these extensions of the body elicit both sympathy and discomfort in their ability to mimic our humanness, and within this tension is the possibility for compelling performative storytelling.”


“HOWW TO BEHAAYV” considers the condition of a reticent protagonist in her middle years who is both suspicious of and excited by the possibility of being witnessed. Through video, performance, and installation, this character engages in private actions as a form of protection against self-pity, including a choreographed dance performed alongside invented companions. We glimpse the protagonist as she lingers between the painful awareness of her solitude and the pretend validation of her audience.


Johanna Winters is a puppeteer and printmaker based in Kansas City, MO. She received her MFA from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, and has been awarded residencies at the Eugeniusz Geppert Academy of Fine Arts in Wrocław, Poland, Guttenberg Arts, Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, Vermont Studio Center, ACRE, the Elizabeth Murray Artist Residency, and Yaddo. She was the 2018-19 Printmaking Artist in Resident at the Lawrence Arts Center. Prior to her artistic pursuits, Winters competed on an Olympic-development cross country ski team based in the Upper Midwest. Winters' recent work has been exhibited and performed nationally, including at the Open Eye Figure Theatre in Minneapolis, and Plug Projects in Kansas City, MO. She currently teaches at the Kansas City Art Institute.

FOLLOW THIS LINK FOR the video reel of HOWW TO BEHAAYV part of the exhibition now showing.

If you missed our Conversation between artist Johanna Winters and curator Nicole Soukup, you can watch it HERE.

Nicole Soukup joined Mia as a research assistant for the Departments of Contemporary Art and Photography/New Media in 2010. In 2017, she was named an Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art and the Minnesota Artist Exhibition Project Coordinator. During her time at Mia, Nicole has assisted with numerous exhibitions, including “More Real? Art in the Age of Truthiness,” “The Sports Show MN,” and “Sacred.” From 2015–2016, she served as the interim coordinator for the MAEP, overseeing 10 exhibitions. Building on her interests in intersectional feminism and social practice, she curated and helped organize the “Guerrilla Girls’ Twin Cities Takeover” at multiple arts venues in 2016. After graduating from the University of Minnesota—Morris, Nicole earned an MA from the University of Florida, focusing her thesis research on the role of photography and film in American Modernism.

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