A Ruin in Progress

January 17 - March 1 2014

Galleri Nicolai Wallner is pleased to announce a solo exhibition of works by Jesper Just entitled A Ruin in Progress. For the first time in his career, Jesper Just combines the mediums of photography, film and sculpture in this new exhibition, creating an interactive, immersive environment which purposefully underlines the works’ shared thematics.

With the photographic series A Ruin in Progress (Intercourses) (2014), the location of the work is built on a set of contradictions that produce an unsettling ambiguity. The work appears to take place in a futuristic or alternate Paris, as iconic elements such as the Eiffel Tower and imposing European architecture are mixed with subtropical vegetation and decay. The location appears to be in a perpetual state of both grown and decay, as structures appear to both be under construction as well as abandoned, left in ruins. Crumbling architecture, derelict paths and other man-made structures represent the quiet vestiges of what once had potential. While not made directly explicit within the work, the real-life location of the photographs is a city in China that was built with the idea to emulate the architecture and feeling of Paris. The juxtapositions of this location are carefully exposed, as the work provides vivid yet fleeting glimpses into this alternate reality, leaving the spectator with unanswered questions as to what was not captured.

This idea of a location in ruin is echoed in the film Llano. The film is named after where it was filmed, Llano Del Rio—a location which was once home to utopian socialist commune that failed due to a lack of water supply and was thus abandoned. In a succinct twist, the film focuses on an abandoned structure that is slowly deteriorating under a steady stream of water coming from an irrigation system in an otherwise empty desert. The only other presence in the movie is a lone woman who appears within the structure, making futile attempts to fix the collapsing structure. Her existence as well as the existence of the structure is unexplained. While the self-destructive nature of the structure gives the spectator some insight into the conflict, much of its context is left deliberately vague.

In contrast to A Ruin in Progress (Intercourses), where the spectator is left to interpret at what time in the conflict the work takes place, the struggle in Llano is evident. As the stream of water speeds up the decay, the question thus becomes what happens when it is gone.

Intervening within the exhibition space is new sculpture by Just, High Bench (Intercourses)—a rough structure that both facilitates and obstructs viewing of the works. Both a refuge and an impediment, the structure echoes the conflicts that are present in both A Ruin in Progress (Intercourses) and Llano, physically demonstrating the impossibility of both situations.

Jesper Just (b. 1974, Denmark) lives and works in New York. In 2013, he represented Denmark at the Venice Biennale. His work is permanently represented in the collections of the Guggenheim Museum (New York), Museum of Modern Art (New York), Moderna Museet (Stockholm), Tate Modern (London), Carnegie Museum (Pittsburgh), ARoS (Aarhus), HEART (Herning) and Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (Humlebæk) among many others. This year he will have solo presentations at ARoS (Aarhus), The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (Seoul), and at Des Moines Art Center (Des Moines).

carrie emberlyn