Published on Tuesday May, 10th 2011
Poised within a hallucinatory portal between voyeurism and fantasy; Jesper Just
ís work illuminates the human condition through an aperture of the individual ego.
Three films by Just, sampling his ten-year career to date, are currently presented at the BALTIC CCA, Gateshead. These works emulate the polished and sheen cinematography used in advertising and in mainstream film production, allowing them to filter through and intercept the audience on familiar terms. In A Vicarious Undertone
(2007) and Sirens of Chrome
(2010) the ďHigh Art LiteĒ cinematography used by classic, brand alluding advertisements of companies like Channel and Calvin Klein is formally mimicked.
These films reference the artistic endeavor of advertising campaigns that transmogrify advertisements into conceptual videos attempting to elevate products by alluding to high culture and intellectual integrity. This aspect of Justís work, subverts the medium and plays coyly with the viewerís expectations.
The instances captured in each film are surprising; in Bliss and Heaven
(2004) Justís interest in outsider individuals is explored using poignant humour. This film melds contradicting aspects of the sterio-type of an American truck-driver. Amongst sweeping shots of deserted wheat-fields under a baking mid-day sun, two men - the driver and a younger, silent on-looker - are both painted as solitary, masculine pioneers; familiar visions in this landscape dressed in uniform jeans and white vest.
The truck-driverís vehicle in this film becomes a set-stage, an extended meditation on the weirdness of these spaces; as a home from home often named and adorned by their habitants with intimate paraphernalia. After following the driver silently into the back of his truck the younger man finds himself somehow in a grand theatre, the older male centre-stage uninhibitedly.
This response however enthusiastic is as close as the characters in Justís films come to embracing the events before them. The high tension felt in the interplay between characters in these works initially relays itself as sexual tension where the protagonist is often placed in the position of a voyeur. On greater reflection this tension seems to show that the character is ill-equipped to face the reality of their own natural instincts or to comply with natureís course, battling with their own intuition while watching events unravel in front of them. In choosing not to partake in them, they are eventually exonerated as the events run their course or as they choose to flight from the scene.
The exclusion of speech adds to this underlying tension and also seems to be divisive in understanding Justís use of film. A recurring principle of his film works seems to be to stand as a critique of how the medium is regularly miss-used. The absence of dialogue in these works heightens their ambiguous reading while further removing them from reality. The audience is pointed to a critique of the prescribed meanings of the mainstream media, which these works reference, and is encouraged to re-examine and challenge pre-conceived ideas in empirical day-to-day life.Devoid of any direct speech, music is given prominence: in A Vicious Undertone its homogenous properties seem to be used to illustrate a middle-aged womanís transition through life.
The isolated scenarios in Justís work do also speak of larger tensions that run through the settings selected for each film. The most recent film shown here: Sirens of Chrome follows a group of four women on a journey through central Detroit. Employing seductive, long panning shots of their Ford rolling through an expansive urban landscape; the realities of this event coarsely agitate the slick prowess of filmic techniques used. The car - appearing new at first glance - is a junkyard salvage job, alluded to by its contrasting purple back door panel and missing hubcaps. The deserted city streets, appearing surreal and eerily peaceful when filmed in such a graceful manner, are not an inaccurate reflection of current day Detroit depopulated due to massive economic decline.
Pulling into the cityís famous Michigan Theatre Car Park, the irony of this site is not lost; the original Ford Motor Company workshop, turned 4,000 seat luxurious theatre, turned currently into a car-park through necessity due to structural issues with itís demolition. Here the car and its passengers are apprehended as a stranger appears mysteriously and performs barefoot using the car as a prop in her physical theatre. This surreal event seems an appropriate homage to this once great and outward reaching site. In its past it was both a foundation to the American dream in industrial development and a reminder of the cityís divisive role through Motown which built the vision for modern day manufactured pop music and in itís time played an essential part in unifying a struggling and racially fractured society through music. The theatre closed due to the economic recession combined with a decline in the popularity the theatre due to the rising popularity of television.dawn bothwellFrom February the 18th to May the 15th, 2011Jesper Just Ė This Nameless SpectacleBALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art - Gateshead Quays , South Shore Road, Gateshead NE8 3BA Info: firstname.lastname@example.orgTel: +44 (0) 191 4781810Opening Hours: Monday-Sunday from 9.30 a.m. to