This Nameless Spectacle
New York-based Danish artist Jesper Just's short films have the formal qualities and gloss of Hollywood productions while resisting their narrative conventions. His lavish visual language, overlapping musical, literary and cinematic references deliver a framework onto which the viewer can attach personal memory. Despite its often highly charged emotional content, Just's work is ambiguous, uncertain and never reaches the moment of 'closure'.
The exhibition at BALTIC is Just's first in a public gallery in the UK and includes three works: Bliss and Heaven 2004, A Vicious Undertow 2007, and new work Sirens of Chrome 2010.
Just has been producing films for the last ten years. He describes his films as "working with a row of open moments" from "pause to pause". Just's work is ambiguous, uncertain and never reaches the moment of 'closure'. His films investigate emotion, power structures and psychodynamics through heightened moments of interaction. They form part of a larger enquiry about human relationships and shifting notions of identity. While Just's seductive, apparently simple and often dialogue-less films at first feel familiar, as the drama unfolds we are forced to re-assess our initial responses to them.
Infused with an ambiguity that allows for many potential readings, Just's films explore atmosphere and the moment. The earliest work in the exhibition, Bliss and Heaven 2004, an encounter between an older and younger man, marks a phase in Just’s practice when the artist exclusively used male protagonists, raising questions about gender politics and the gaze. In A Vicious Undertow 2007, turns to women and a highly charged pas de trios takes place between a whistling older woman protagonist and a younger couple. In Just's most recent work, Sirens of Chrome 2010, there is a stillness in this work in a medium that is never still, as five African-American women conduct an abstracted encounter in an apparently otherwise deserted car park. All three works in the exhibition play with the idea of spectacle to question human stereotypes. They offer an insight into the geography of emotional life and, ultimately, the human condition.
Jesper Just was born in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1974 and currently lives and in New York. Recent solo exhibitions have included ARTscape: Denmark – Jesper Just, Galerija VARTAI, Vilnius, Lithuania; Jesper Just: Romantic Delusions, Tampa Museum of Art, USA 2010; With Mixed Emotions, MOCAD Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, USA; Twochange/Rio cinema, Stockholm, Sweden; The Retrospective of Jesper Just, X Media Forum, 31st Moscow International Film Festival, MediaArtLab, Moscow, Russia 2009; Romantic Delusions, Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris, France and Brooklyn Art Museum, New York, USA, Todo acabará en lágrimas, La Casa Encendida, Madrid, Spain 2008; S.M.A.K, Ghent, Belgium; Ursula Blickle videolounge, Kunsthalle Vienna, Vienna, Austria; Jesper Just : No Man is an Island II, Bliss and Heaven, Something to Love, Miami Art Museum, Miami, USA 2007; It Will All End in Tears, Special viewing during Frieze Art Fair: ArtProjx presentation in Prince Charles Cinema, London, UK; The 1st at Moderna: Jesper Just, Something to Love, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden 2006.
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