This Nameless Spectacle

August 31 - October 20 2012

It is a great pleasure for Galleri Nicolai Wallner to present This Nameless Spectacle, a new video work by Jesper Just.

Jesper Just (b. 1974) is known for his short cinematic film works that are often emotionally charged with ambiguous narratives. His films never presents the viewer with an answer to the plot, but rather leaves the viewer puzzled at the end. Gender, inter-personal relationships and identity are common themes in Just’s oeuvre. Previous works have addressed the relationship between men and challenged the typical stereotypical perception of men and male masculinity and explored some of the most essential and basic feelings to human life.

This Nameless Spectacle is a two-channel work presented on two opposing screens. The work takes its title from the poem The Right Way by American poet William Carlos Williams. In the poem Williams describes the fascination with which we observe anonymous actions, the nameless spectacles that surround us every day and everywhere: “The Supreme importance – of this nameless spectacle”. The wide scale of the installation is all-consuming and demands that the viewer becomes physically incorporated in the work. When moving from one projection to the other, the viewer itself edits his own version of the film, thus adding a significant spatial experience to the work. The action in the film is mirrored on the two opposing screens and split between the two screens, bouncing from one to the other.

The work starts slowly in the Parisian garden of Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. Here a woman, who is confined to a wheel chair, slowly strolls through the romantic classical park. In an impressive mise én scene the viewer follow the woman’s journey through the sunny idyll of the park. As the scene changes to an urban social residential complex, so does the light that becomes gloomy and dark.

In an almost Hitchcock-fashion she is then followed closely by a young man, who pursues her intensely for some time. Even though the woman seems frightened of him, there is still an awe of fascination and attraction in her.

She then enters the presumed safety of the building where she lives. As she gets through the door to her apartment, she surprisingly steps out of the wheelchair, gets up and goes to the window. In the window across from her she sees the young man. He begins blinding her with the reflection of the sun in his open window. The woman falls to the floors and goes into an almost erotic series of spasms while twisting and turning in an orgiastic manner on the floor. Astonished, the young man watches the scene with a mixture of fascination and horror. The viewer pays witness to this intense spectacle, as the sun slowly goes away and the woman’s spasms die out.

The relationship between young and old is a common theme in Jesper Just’s works. And the tensions between the woman and the young man becomes even clearer when his teasing her throws her go into an orgasmic frenzy, a spiritual release and transcendence and conclusion to the short relationship between the two.

Jesper Just’s ability to compress the narrative paradigm makes the distanced affair that the two share, feel much longer and this brief film of thirteen minutes seems like a full-length feature.

With his film works Jesper Just evokes a sense of normality through his uses of situations, places thoughts and emotions that people can relate to. But in Just’s works, normality and the familiar seems alien to the viewer. Like in a dream, where everything seems familiar but where nothing is how it usually is. Film being one of the most familiar mediums in the world, Just uses the codes and signs from the world of film to point to particular things you might not find in the popular cultural mainstream context of film. And with his technicality and scale of production of his films, Just breaks with previous traditions of low budget and documentary style art film and puts forth a new style, more reminiscent of Hollywood blockbusters rather than the historical art film.

Jesper Just has been selected to represent Denmark at the 55th Venice Biennial in 2013. For the biennial, Just will create a new multi-screen film work and will co-orporate with several external partners for the execution of the work.

Jesper Just lives and works in New York. His work is included in the collections of the Carnegie Museum (Pittsburgh), the Guggenheim Museum (New York), Museum of Modern Art (New York), Moderna Museet (Stockholm), Tate Modern (London) and Louisiana (Humlebæk), in addition to many others.

carrie emberlyn