Know Thy Neighbour #3

Table of Contents

A blue bicycle rests on a short orange column. A single-storey building right behind it has cream walls and an old tree branch hanging from its open window. Behind the building is a body of water, with multi-storey apartment buildings visible on the other side.
The Commonwealth of New Bayswater. Image Courtesy of Fremantle Biennale and the artist. Photo by Duncan Wright.

Jessee Lee Johns

Jessee was born in 1980 in Western Aus­tralia, where he lives and works. After comp­leting a bachelors degree at Curtin in 2000, he had a rather lengthy sabbatical from the practice of art, to the point where he’s pretty certain those credentials have long since expired.

His practice is rooted in a DIY philosophy of low­er­ed stan­dards and tactical ignorance that has gen­er­ated a list of im­ressive sounding achievements.

Jessee has exhibited extensively outside the gallery system both nationally and internationally.

He is the sole citizen of The Commonwealth of New Bayswater, a country he founded in 2017 that appears spo­radi­cally. He is its some­time am­bass­ador, but certainly not it’s head of state. It currently has a semi-functional postal service where Aus­tralians can thoughtfully send postcards to loved ones in order to subtly brag about the fact that they are overseas.

He invented a dish called ‘meat porridge’, which is just an argument about context and taste rather than an actual thing humans would want to eat. He is the co-founder and director of the Contemporary Institute of Modern Art (CIOMA), an international and pan-temporal art institution with sites in 2015, 2016, Cambodia and 2020. In order to get out of having to stage fairly large scale solo show at PSAS in 2018, Jessee summoned the gallery and himself from 2020, inadvertently preventing West­ern Aus­tralia’s secession and collapse at the hands of Westralia’s future Captain, Ben Cousins. He got out of having to do all that work, and prevented a local­ised apo­calypse, but it made quite a mess which he did have to clean up.

More details to come.