Jonathan Michael Ray’s work examines the multilayered histories and fictions of artefacts and places. He’s interested in how contemporary society collects and interprets stories and cultures, and how objects and life from our current time might one day join and be interpreted among an ever growing archive of human existence.
During his residency at Thirdbase Studios, Jonathan explored Iberian archaeological collections, the flea market stalls of Feira da Ladra, the family mausoleums of Cemiterio do Alto Sao Joao and the historical sites in the regions of Evora and Sintra. In the studio he has worked with a number of materials and methods including photography, cyanotype, found object assemblage, concrete casting and engraving in stone. The result of his residency at Thirdbase Studios is a body of work entitled “The Forgotten Century”.
In researching and developing “The Forgotten Century,” Jonathan was primarily interested in the known, forgotten and imagined stories objects and sites contain. Whether from an ancient memorial stone, names engraved into a wall, prehistoric cave art, bones in an ossuary, photographs of a landscape, millenia-old materials removed from the earth, the shrine at a family tomb or a secondhand object brought from a flea market in the city; all of which speak of a life or a moment, a fragment of time and an age. The reading of stories in the way is an act of imagination or faith.
The finished pieces, a mix of object- and image-based work, draws inspiration directly from such encounters and ideas. Some are inspired by specific objects and common tropes of the museum archive. Others are engaged in the timeless and very human act of leaving a mark in stone and the ceaseless layering of life. Others are concerned with the creation of myth and meaning through the visual arrangement of images and objects. Like a storyteller or tarot reader, conscious and knowing; archeology in reverse.